An exhibition centre could be used a field hospital in London, NHS England and Improvement have confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the regulator’s London office said the ExCel Centre in east London was one of “a range of options” for field hospitals in the capital set up with the military.

The plan is in response to the pressure on hospital beds in London, which has the highest number of covid-19 infections and deaths so far.

The facility, which is also used for dog show Crufts and an annual showcase for the arms industry, could be used for hundreds of patients.

In a statement on the issue, NHSE chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ”NHS staff are working round the clock gearing up to deal with this unprecedented global health threat.

“As well as ramping up treatment capacity across all NHS hospitals, we’re getting on with other options too, including new facilities as well as a landmark deal with private hospitals which has put 20,000 staff, 8,000 beds and 1,200 ventilators at our disposal.”