York & North Yorkshire

Coronavirus: Capt Tom Moore opens Harrogate NHS Nightingale hospital

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Media captionThe 99-year-old war veteran raised more than £27m for the NHS.

The 99-year-old war veteran who raised over £27m for the NHS has opened a new Nightingale hospital in Harrogate.

Captain Tom Moore, who raised money by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, appeared via video link at the opening on Tuesday.

A virtual ceremony was held to open the 500-bed facility at Harrogate Convention Centre, the first of seven field hospitals built outside a city.

Capt Tom received a standing ovation from NHS staff and military personnel.

Speaking at the opening, Capt Tom said: "All the doctors and nurses throughout the national health service are doing such a magnificent job under very difficult conditions.

"Every day, they're putting themselves in harm's way and they're doing it with a determination that only we can do.

"We must all say 'thank you very much to the national health service,' all of you, everyone throughout the whole system, who are doing such a magnificent job."

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Media captionWatch as Capt Tom Moore completes his 100th lap

The veteran, who was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, originally aimed to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together however his feat captured the imagination of the nation.

Steve Russell, chief executive of the new hospital in Harrogate, said that Capt Moore had "inspired millions around the world".

He said his motto, "tomorrow will be a good day," had "given hope to those struggling with social distancing and served as a reminder that we can all overcome any challenge if we're united together".

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Media captionHow Harrogate's Convention Centre was converted into a hospital in under three weeks.

The opening was conducted by video link in line with social distancing policies.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It's an honour to be asked to open this hospital alongside Captain Tom Moore.

"During this worrying and difficult time for our whole country his phenomenal achievement has reminded us of our common bonds and served to further unite us."

More than 600 people worked to get the Harrogate hospital ready including members of the Armed Forces.

Major David Mortimer, military liaison officer for the hospital, said: "I've been really proud and so have all the soldiers that we've had working here.

"It's been really empowering to try and find a solution to this crisis while there's so much suffering going on."

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Image caption The construction of the hospital required more than 7m litres of oxygen

The hospital is expected to provide extra beds for coronavirus patients, if they are needed by local health services.

Amanda Stanford, chief nurse at the hospital, said they were ready to take "patients who require ventilation".

She said: "Our aim is to make sure that patients coming here are cared for in the same way that they would be in any other critical care facility.

Nightingale hospitals have been announced for London, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast.

NHS England said it had also freed up more than 33,000 beds around the country, the equivalent of 50 new hospitals.

A deal has also been struck with the independent hospital sector to provide 8,000 extra beds, as well as staff and equipment, it added.

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