Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hotel Ready to Be Turned into Hospital

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hotel Ready to Be Turned into Hospital

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX METCALFE Local democracy reporter @Mecs_LDR

PLANS have been drawn up to convert a hotel at Teesside Airport into a medical centre to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen says the St George Hotel has been offered as a potential facility for extra beds for the NHS.

And the mayor says he has "not ruled out" the takeover of other hotels.

The St George Hotel closed in late 2018 before the airport was taken back into public hands in 2019 by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was looking at converting hotels into temporary hospitals on Sunday.

Fresh calls have also been sounded for manufacturing firms on Teesside to look at building medical ventilators and other critical medical equipment to cope with an anticipated surge in demand on the NHS.

Efforts to use the Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TeesAMP), in Middlesbrough, as a hub to build equipment are also under way.

If companies cannot switch production - or don't have the right capabilities - the mayor has urged them to consider offering staff to other manufacturers to support the effort.

Mr Houchen said he'd had a number of calls with ministers and officials in the past 72 hours to respond to coronavirus and help the NHS.

He added: "It is absolutely essential that in this time of national emergency we all pull together and do our part and that the local councils and the Local Resilience Forum step up to the mark as the responsible bodies.

"I'm concerned that we aren't as prepared as we should be - and getting everyone together to work through our plans will be essential to help local people get through what will be a very difficult time.

"More information will be provided as soon as we get it, but in the meantime, I would ask that everyone looks after each other.

"Please provide support or help to friends and neighbours who may be less able than ourselves."

A spokesman for the mayor's office said the Government had processes in place to reimburse firms that built ventilators and equipment. …

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