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Coronavirus: Prince Edward opens Bristol's Nightingale hospital

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image copyrightBen Birchall/PA
image captionPrince Edward opened the hospital via video link as the team behind its construction observed social distancing guidelines

The NHS Nightingale hospital in Bristol has been opened by the Earl of Wessex in a virtual ceremony.

Prince Edward was joined by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens to carry out the opening via video link.

The hospital can provide up to 300 intensive care beds for coronavirus patients if required.

It was built in 24 days at the University of the West of England's (UWE) Frenchay campus.

"It is a somewhat curious experience to be asked to open a facility which we hope will never be required," Prince Edward said.

"It is here for reassurance. In particular to save lives and improve the resilience of the Severn hospital network.

"To everyone assigned to work here, thank you. Thank you for being here when you are needed."

image copyrightBen Birchall/PA
image captionThe virtual opening ceremony was held on Monday

The facility will by run by North Bristol NHS Trust and is one of seven Nightingale hospitals set up around the UK to improve NHS capacity during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sir Simon called the construction of the hospital "an extraordinary act of teamwork".

"We know that coronavirus is going to be with us for months if not years to come and we also know that there is going to be continuing pressure on services meaning that the capacity that the Nightingale hospitals represent will be useful to have not just over the coming weeks but potentially over months beyond that as well.

"For those who say, we're not going to need to fill up every Nightingale bed, we say, of course, it makes sense to hope for the best but nevertheless to prepare for the worst."

Mr Hancock said the hospital provided "another layer of armour" to protect the NHS.

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