Coronavirus: 'Similarities' Between NHS Nightingale And Camp Bastion Hospital


A former commanding officer at Camp Bastion's pop-up military hospital says there are "really good comparisons" between the facility in Helmand province and the new NHS Nightingale hospitals.

Captain Carol Betteridge, who ran the field hospital during British presence in Afghanistan, said there are many similarities with the military facility and the new field hospitals.

The temporary hospitals are being built across the UK with the help of military personnel in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"There are really good comparisons between Nightingale and Camp Bastion," said Capt Betteridge.

"The NHS staff are leaving their families, as we did; they are donning their uniform – their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), their body armour; they're working in a challenging environment, an unknown environment with an invisible enemy.

"They are working as a team looking after each other to your left and right – the buddy-buddy system as we would have in the military."

The first Nightingale hospital, at the ExCel Centre in London, admitted its first patients on Tuesday, while the second facility will open in Birmingham on Good Friday. 

An ambulance arrives at the Nightingale Hospital in east London.
An ambulance arrives at the Nightingale Hospital in east London.

Further hospitals will open in Bristol, Manchester and Harrogate, NHS England has confirmed.

Capt Betteridge said those who helped to build the London Nightingale had done an "amazing job" to open it so quickly, describing them as "the heroes of the day".

Around 200 military personnel helped construct the 4,000-bed facility in just 10 days.

Capt Betteridge, who spent 25 years in the Royal Navy, also gave a pep-talk to NHS staff working at the new Nightingale hospitals.

"There is an end to this, you will defeat the enemy," she said. 

More than 2,600 military personnel are deployed in response to the coronavirus crisis, under the COVID Support Force.

As well as helping to build the Nightingale hospitals, personnel are also delivering PPE equipment to NHS staff, while military helicopters across the UK are on standby to assist the health service. 

Cover image: Inside London's Nightingale Hospital (Picture: MOD).

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