The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is playing a crucial part in setting up the new NHS Nightingale Hospital at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) by funding the training of hundreds of key workers.
Local training providers, funded by the WMCA, are supporting the NHS by rapidly training staff for the Nightingale as part of the region’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
So far, more than 300 people – either former NHS staff returning to help on the front line, or current NHS employees who are being seconded from their day job – have been trained in manual handling in just one week.
This includes learning how to help patients into and out of bed, use a hoist, and turn those patients who are unable to move.
The WMCA is also funding training in infection control, cleaning, food hygiene and wellbeing support, with all sessions being led by trainers with clinical expertise.
Like other NHS Nightingale Hospitals, the facility at the NEC has been built to provide extra capacity, if needed, for local services dealing with the increased number of patients during the peak of coronavirus.
Led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the centre is providing 500 fully equipped beds, mostly for adult patients who are recovering from Covid-19 and no longer need intensive hospital care. It will also support patients who are receiving end-of-life care. The facility can be scaled up quickly to 4,000 beds, if needed.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “It is an amazing achievement that our Nightingale Hospital is ready to admit patients after only two weeks, and a massive thank you has to go to the military, the NHS, and everyone else involved for making this happen.
“As part of this operation, I’m very proud that we’ve been able to help ease the pressure on the NHS at this very difficult time by working with our training providers to train key support staff.
“These are former or current NHS employees who may not have worked in a hospital ward recently, or may not have any previous clinical experience. They are now ready to support our local hospitals, and can take up posts at the Nightingale Hospital if needed.”
Lawrence Barton, managing director of Birmingham-based GB Training, one of the providers involved, said: “The people we have trained include former nurses who have come out of retirement, managers who haven’t worked on wards for many years, and non-clinical staff.
“What they all have in common is that their determination to help is overwhelming.”
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “The Nightingale Hospital at the NEC is ready to support our existing hospitals and their expert clinical teams by providing extra capacity.
“It’s great news that the WMCA has been able to help with the training of key support workers.”