NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber is a new temporary hospital which is being built at Harrogate Convention Centre.
The hospital will be ready to provide critical care beds within Yorkshire and the Humber as part of the response to COVID-19 in case the region needs surge support.
Paula Lorimer, Director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “As COVID-19 has spread around the world, the impact has been devastating and our hearts go out to those who have been and continue to be personally affected.”
Convention centres around the UK are being repurposed to help the NHS in the battle against COVID-19. Critical care hospitals have already been established at ExCel London, with further sites at Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and Manchester Central Convention Complex.
Paula said: “The re-purposing of convention centres is something our industry and sector should be rightly proud of. In Harrogate, our team is doing all it can to support the NHS in its efforts.”
Alongside supporting the NHS, army, building contractors and clinicians to create the hospital, staff at Harrogate Convention Centre, including electricians, caterers and security teams returned to their roles after the centre temporary closed in line with government guidelines for the events industry.
Paula said: “Like the rest of the country, we want to do all we can, and are ready to help during this unprecedented national and global crisis. My team have very much been hidden heroes working diligently behind the scenes. They willingly came into work at a moment’s notice and worked around the clock. For instance, our contract catering team came back initially just as volunteers to feed the NHS teams and contractors, as they had be sent home as many other contractors on no pay – we cannot thank them enough.”
Harrogate Convention Centre opened in 1982, cementing the town as a major conference and events destination, hosting the Eurovision Song Contest that same year. Today, as one of the country’s premium multi-use venues it delivers extensive trade and consumer exhibitions, conferences, and entertainment attracting 300,000 visitors a year to the town, contributing an estimated £60m to the local economy.
Paula added: “Our priorities are clear – to assist the national efforts in supporting the NHS and frontline staff, to continue to protect the health and well-being of our employees, and to also support the needs of our customers, partners and suppliers as much as possible. We want to ensure the live events sector can weather this crisis, and come out of this period of uncertainty in as strong a position possible, and have re-scheduled events this summer for later in the calendar. All of our clients have been 100% understanding.”
The team will work with the local Harrogate community to ensure the NHS are supported and warmly welcomed across the town, with hotels opening to accommodate NHS staff.
Paula said: “Once this difficult crisis is over, we will all want to look back with pride in how we responded.”