UAE-owned company backtracks on charging UK's NHS millions for London coronavirus mega hospital 'Nightingale'

UAE-owned company backtracks on charging UK's NHS millions for London coronavirus mega hospital 'Nightingale'
The UAE-owned company ADNEC has backtracked on a decision to charge the UK’s National Health Service millions of pounds in rent for a new hospital which will treat coronavirus patients
2 min read
05 April, 2020
ADNEC was charging the NHS millions for the use of its conference centre [AFP]
A UAE-owned company has been forced to backtrack from a decision to charge the UK's overstretched National Health Service (NHS) millions of dollars in rent for the use of the newly constructed hospital for Covid-19 patients.

The Nightingale hospital in east London was constructed at breakneck speed earlier this month inside the ExCel, a convention centre owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec).

However, a Sunday Times report prompted outrage on Sunday after it revealed that Adnec was charging the NHS up to £3m a month ($3.6 m) for renting its facilities, at a time when the NHS's resources are under severe strain and the UK's coronavirus infection rate is increasing exponentially.

Health spokesman of the opposition Labour Party, Jonathan Ashworth told The Sunday Times: "Staff and patients will be disgusted at the billionaire owners of the ExCeL centre. They should be prepared to offer the facilities for free."

UK news website iNews contrasted Adnec's decision to charge the NHS with that of US firm Blackstone, which has offered the centre it owns - the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre - to the NHS rent-free.

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Later on Sunday, Inews reported that Adnec has appeared to backtrack on its decision. Jeremy Rees, the ExCel Centre's chief executive, said in a statement to the outlet that Adnec had not charged the NHS rent, but that its initial agreement with the NHS included a "contribution to some fixed costs".

He added however, that the ExCel Centre had now "decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves".

Adnec Chief Executive Humaid Matar Al-Dhaheri said: "It is our firm commitment that we will not charge a penny for the use of our facilities, and we will provide the NHS with the operational and logistical support it needs for NHS Nightingale London. We stand in solidarity with Britain in facing this crisis together, as friends and partners."

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