The chief executive of ExCeL London, Jeremy Rees has confirmed that the NHS is using the exhibition and conference venue rent free. The Sunday Times reported, 5 April, that the venue’s owners, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC) were charging the NHS £2-3m per month for use of the facility.
ExCeL London is now operating as NHS Nightingale, a 4,000-bed hospital to offer extra capacity for critical care to the health service.
Rees added that the initial agreement between the 100,000sqm venue and the NHS included a contribution to some of the fixed costs involved with keeping the large facility operational, however these costs are now being covered by ExCeL London.
Rees said: “The use of ExCeL for NHS Nightingale London has always been provided to the NHS rent free. We joined the national effort to combat coronavirus [Covid-19] immediately and worked in close partnership with the NHS to ensure this hospital could be up and running in a matter of days.
“The initial agreement with the NHS included a contribution to some fixed costs. We have since decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves.
“The ExCeL London facility is fully available to the NHS, and we are here to support all their needs and requirements during this crisis.
“I have seen first-hand the fantastic work that NHS Nightingale London is doing to save lives and respond to the largest national emergency the UK has faced in a generation. It is a privilege to support the NHS and its wonderful staff working tirelessly night and day to protect people and save lives.”
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, MD and GCEO of parent company ADNEC, released a statement saying profiting from the Covid-19 pandemic has “always been the furthest thing from our minds”.
“Protecting people and saving lives are of the utmost importance as we face this unprecedented global pandemic,” he said.
Al Dhaheri reiterated that the East London venue was offered rent free to the NHS at the outset. He said: “We are doing all that we can to help the UK through these challenging times. To be clear, profit has always been the furthest thing from our minds. The venue was offered rent free from the initial conversation with the NHS, and ADNEC Group will ensure the ExCeL London partnership comes at no cost to the NHS.
“It is our firm commitment that we will not charge a penny for the use of our facilities, and we will provide the NHS with the operational and logistical support it needs for NHS Nightingale London.
“We stand in solidarity with Britain in facing this crisis together, as friends and partners.”
More than 200 event specialists were helped by the army in transforming the venue into a hospital, with individual bed spaces constructed with the conventional exhibition shell scheme model.