UK coronavirus – Abu Dhabi 'charges NHS millions a month in rent' to use its ExCel centre as Nightingale hospital

THE owners of the ExCeL centre are reportedly charging the NHS up to £3million a month in rent to use the space for the Nightingale hospital.

Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec) owns the 100-acre site in East London which is being used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.

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It is the first of several makeshift spaces used by the NHS in a desperate bid to treat people with the deadly bug.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock opened the hospital on Friday and it has space for holding 4,000 people across 80 wards.

It is set to be one of the biggest hospitals in the world and comes as the UK coronavirus death toll hit 4,353, with more than 41,000 confirmed cases.


However, it today emerged that its owners Adnec have decided to charge the NHS between £2million and £3million a month to use it, according to The Sunday Times.

The Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, told the newspaper the deal is an “absolute outrage”.

He said: “Staff and patients will be disgusted at the billionaire owners of the ExCeL centre.

“They should be prepared to offer the facilities for free.”

The NEC in Birmingham, owned by US company Blackstone, is letting the NHS use the space for free.

It said it is “putting the entire NEC facility at the disposal of the NHS for as long as it needs it”.

Staff and patients will be disgusted at the billionaire owners of the ExCeL centre.

Several other temporary hospitals are being opened in Glasgow, Manchester and Harrogate.

Lola McEvoy, from the GMB, slammed the decision to pay rent for hiring the ExCeL.

She told the Sunday Times: “It is simply wrong that the government could funnel cash to crown princes to deal with an urgent public health crisis while the future of low-paid outsourced workers hangs in the balance.”

A source close to the NHS also told the paper the health service was “desperate” to find a huge venue in London to cope with the demand for beds.

He said: “If you want to do that deal, you haven’t got much time to negotiate.


Another source added: “This all had to happen so fast and the ExCeL had everyone over a barrel. There will be a moral reckoning over this.”

Jeremy Rees, who runs the ExCeL, said the centre will not profit from NHS Nightingale.

A spokesman said: “I would like to stress that ExCeL is not charging commercial rates to the NHS and is no way profiting from NHS Nightingale.”

Adnec is chaired by Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi and is owned by Abu Dhabi.

An NHS spokesperson told The Sun Online: "Every country in the world is facing an unprecedented health emergency, and the NHS has responded with unprecedented action: freeing up 33,000 beds, striking a deal with the independent sector to get 8,000 more and working with the military to build the first Nightingale Hospital in a matter of days.

"The NHS is pulling out all the stops to save as many lives as possible, and we are grateful for all the help we have are receiving including from the public, charities and companies."

The Sun Online has contacted Adnec for comment.

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