Military planners from the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) are assisting the NHS in the construction of a temporary hospital in London’s ExCel centre that could be used to house 4,000 patients.

The exhibition centre was scouted by military planners and will open for its patients early next week. Initially, the emergency hospital called NHS Nightingale will provide care for around 500 patients and expand from there.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our military planners and engineers are working hand-in-hand with the NHS to support their development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital. The Armed Forces have already been distributing personal protective equipment to meet the increased demand and we stand ready to assist further in any capacity needed.

“The NHS and our Armed Forces are both world leaders in their fields, and this ambitious project is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation.”