The NHS has enlisted Virgin Atlantic and easyJet to help staff new Nightingale hospitals as part of the fight against coronavirus.
The airlines are asking staff who have not been working since the Covid-19 pandemic started to ground planes to consider helping at the new hospitals being built across the country.
The news comes as easyJet said it would ground its entire fleet from today.
The low-cost carrier has already written to all 9,000 of its UK based staff, which includes 4,000 cabin crew who are trained in CPR.
At the same time, Virgin Atlantic will write to approximately 4,000 of their employees from today, prioritising those with the required skills and training.
Those who sign up will perform clinical support roles, under the close instruction of nurses and senior clinicians on the wards at the NHS Nightingale hospitals across the country.
The NHS has confirmed that they are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester and other sites are being considered.
Support workers will change beds, tend to patients and assist doctors and nurses working on the wards.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Nurses, doctors and other vital health and social care staff are working day and night to provide the best possible care to patients as the NHS continues to fight this global health pandemic.
“The NHS is mobilising like never before, but the scale of this challenge has not been seen in peacetime so we need all the support we can get.
“Thousands of staff are returning to work alongside us, but we need everyone to do their bit – whether that is working in one of our current health or social care services, working in the Nightingale Hospital, volunteering to help the NHS or staying home to save lives.”
St John Ambulance are supplying hundreds of volunteers to help staff the first Nightingale hospital at the ExCeL centre in London.
Many airline staff are first aid trained or hold other clinical qualifications as well as being security cleared, while NHS clinicians will oversee their work – with expert training provided to all new recruits when they sign-up.
Corneel Koster, chief customer officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are very grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing in extremely challenging circumstances and we’re committed to doing all we can to support the national effort against the rapid acceleration of Covid-19.
“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the government’s Coronavirus job retention scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organisations at this time of crisis.
“The NHS approached us with this unique opportunity as they recognise the value and experience our medically trained cabin crew and trainers will bring to the incredible Nightingale hospital initiative.”
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