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Military medics deploy to NHS trusts amid soaring staff absence

COVID-related nursing staff absence – against backdrop of chronic nurse shortage – forces services to plug gaps with armed forces personnel
Army medics deploy to London hospitals in COVID staff absence crisis

London’s NHS calls in clinical and administrative support from military personnel as COVID-related staff absence climbs dramatically in England

The military is being drafted in to support London hospitals amid soaring levels of COVID-related staff absence.

Forty military medics will be deployed to hospitals today, alongside 160 general personnel to help with administrative tasks such as checking patients in. They are expected to be in place for three weeks.

COVID-related NHS staff absence in England topped 40,000 at the end of December , up 62% from 21 December.

Deployment a

London’s NHS calls in clinical and administrative support from military personnel as COVID-related staff absence climbs dramatically in England

Picture: John Houlihan

The military is being drafted in to support London hospitals amid soaring levels of COVID-related staff absence.

Forty military medics will be deployed to hospitals today, alongside 160 general personnel to help with administrative tasks such as checking patients in. They are expected to be in place for three weeks.

COVID-related NHS staff absence in England topped 40,000 at the end of December, up 62% from 21 December.

Deployment a result of NHS staffing crisis

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said rising absence explained why ministers had ‘hurriedly’ deployed the military.

‘The government can no longer deny the staffing crisis in the NHS. Once the military has been brought in, where does it turn next?

‘Nursing staff might welcome any extra help now, but we need to know the government isn’t compromising patient and professional standards in any way.’

Trusts declare critical incidents

By 6 January, 17 hospital trusts in England had declared critical incidents because they feared they could not deliver safe services. Exhausted nurses are being asked to work on their rest days and cancel annual leave to fill staff COVID-related absence.

Military personnel will be deployed in 40 teams of five – comprising one medic and four support personnel.

Chief nurse for the NHS in London Jane Clegg said: ‘We are thankful for the support of the armed forces as they respond to the increased demands brought by COVID.’

Military supporting health services across the UK

Around 1,800 service personnel are already deployed across the UK to support the civil authorities in their response to the pandemic.

They include 313 personnel assisting the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and 96 in the Scottish Ambulance Service, while more than 1,000 are helping the vaccine booster programme.


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