Network Rail has provided its logistics and project management expertise to help deliver the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West in Manchester.

Dozens of volunteers with specialisms in supply chain and logistics worked with the Army Reserve and NHS to get the hospital, which has capacity for up to 750 patients, open over the Easter weekend.

The volunteers helped unload, move and build hospital beds, ready for the arrival of the first coronavirus patients on Easter Sunday.

The temporary hospital at the Manchester Central conference centre, also known as the GMEX, is a key facility in the region’s response to Covid-19.

The NHS has also been given storage space at Network Rail’s regional distribution centre in Warrington.

Normally the site operated by Network Rail’s supply chain operations team would be closed over Easter, but staff volunteered to work throughout the bank holiday weekend in the race to open NHS Nightingale North West on time.

Around 500 items of NHS equipment were transported between Manchester and Warrington over the Easter weekend. More equipment is being kept at the distribution centre ready for when it’s needed.

Those who volunteered their time included warehouse staff, drivers, and management from DHL and Network Rail.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail group safety, technical and engineering director, said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West has been a brilliant project. The pace and the energy has been fantastic. Everyone has worked together to meet the deadlines and I’m delighted that Network Rail has been able to help the NHS.

“We have provided warehousing, lorries and logistical support. We also provided teams of people to assemble the hospital equipment. I’m very proud of the Network Rail people who volunteered with this vitally important project.” 

The work on the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West follows efforts by Network Rail to deliver two lorry loads of protective medical face masks for frontline medical workers.

The supplies were driven over 230 miles from St Helen’s to Aldershot Barracks in March.