The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to NHS staff's "selfless commitment" as he opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham via video link on Thursday, from his Norfolk home. Prince William, 37, thanked those who have been involved in building the new facility as well as frontline workers for their tireless efforts responding to the spread of COVID-19, before he declared the new medical facility open.
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WATCH: Prince William officially opens new hospital in Birmingham by video link
The Duke said: "Let me start by reiterating all that has been said so far and paying tribute to the incredible work that NHS staff across the country have been doing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Their selfless commitment has touched the hearts of the entire nation.
"The building you are standing in is yet another example of how people across the country have risen to this unprecedented challenge. The Nightingale hospitals will rightly go down as landmarks in the history of the NHS. The NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is a wonderful example of Britain pulling together, and having spoken to some of the people who helped build it, hospitals are about the people and not the bricks. NHS staff, armed forces, local government, and the private sector have collectively stepped up to turn this Exhibition Centre into a Hospital. You all deserve our huge thanks, and you should all be hugely proud of what you have achieved in such a short space of time.
"I know that the Nightingale Birmingham will provide invaluable resources for hospitals from miles and miles around. This will reassure people across the Midlands that if their local hospitals reach capacity, there will be extra beds available for their loved ones here. I find that very comforting and I know many other people will too.
"I want to thank you all so much for you are doing to ensure we give the best possible care to those affected at this most challenging of times. And finally, I am delighted to declare the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham officially open."
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William praised construction and NHS workers as he opened the new hospital remotely
The new NHS Nightingale Hospital has been constructed inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and is the second of seven hospitals being built around England in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The hospital, which will have a workforce of doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff, will provide beds for general medical COVID-19 patients.
The event was hosted by the Rt. Honourable Jacqui Smith, Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, who was also joined virtually by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combine Authority.
William's engagement comes after his father, the Prince of Wales, made history by officially opening the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London via video link earlier this month. Prince Charles, 71, praised construction workers and NHS staff from his home office in Birkhall, Scotland, shortly after he himself had recovered from contracting coronavirus.
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The NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham has been constructed inside the NEC
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Foundation has made a commitment to play its part in the fight against COVID-19 in the UK. In a statement on its website, it said the foundation will be: "Working to connect our partners with those who are able to provide practical support to frontline responders and their families; Doing all we can to promote and support the charities that can play a part in helping responders and their families with their mental health needs; and playing our part in the national effort to thank and celebrate all those working on the frontline of this crisis."
Before the UK lockdown was imposed, William and Kate visited a NHS 111 call centre in Croydon, to highlight its vital work during the crisis. The couple's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, were also filmed applauding NHS workers during the first week of the Clap for our Carers campaign.
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