The Prince of Wales has hailed the new NHS Nightingale hospital as a “practical message of hope” for coronavirus patients during a “time of national suffering”.
Charles opened the temporary facility at the ExCel centre in east London via a video-link from Scotland and praised its speed of construction as an “almost unbelievable feat of work”.
Attending the ceremony in person was Health Secretary Matt Hancock, senior NHS figures and others involved in the project and all stood two metres apart, observing coronavirus advice.
Mr Hancock said the “extraordinary project”, the core of which was completed in just nine days, was a “testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved”.
The heir to the throne, speaking from his home of Birkhall, Aberdeenshire, said the new hospital “offers us an intensely practical message of hope for those who will need it most at this time of national suffering”.
He added: “Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time, and for as few people as possible.”
The Nightingale, named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, will need an army of up to 16,000 staff in clinical and ancillary roles to keep it running.
Split into more than 80 wards containing 42 beds each, the facility will be used to treat Covid-19 patients who have been transferred from other intensive care units across London.
It was set up by NHS contractors in just over a week with the assistance of around 200 military personnel.
Charles, who this week completed a period of self-isolation after contracting coronavirus, added: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense – from its speed of construction as we’ve heard to its size and the skills of those who have created it.
“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible can be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”