The owner of London’s ExCel centre has performed a U-turn on charging the NHS to use the site as a hospital to treat coronavirus patients.
ExCel chief executive Jeremy Rees said an initial agreement with the NHS to house the temporary Nightingale Hospital “included a contribution to some fixed costs”.
But he said: “We have since decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves.”
Mr Rees added that the ExCel had always been provided to the NHS rent-free.
The Sunday Times reported that the centre, which is owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), was charging the NHS between £2m and £3m in rent to use the east London site.
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, managing director and group chief executive of ADNEC, said: “To be clear, profit has always been the furthest thing from our minds.”
He added: “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.”
The field hospital can hold as many as 4,000 patients and is the first of a number of similar facilities planned for the UK.
The Nightingale Hospital was built in nine days and is now open. It has 500 beds in place, with space for an additional 3,500.