A team of 30 military personnel has arrived at hospitals in Lincolnshire to assist the healthcare sector suffering staff shortages caused by COVID-19.
The announcement was made by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust in response to declaring a critical incident due to ‘unprecedented’ staff shortages earlier in January.
The critical incident then became a major incident on January 11, with operations and outpatient appointments being temporarily postponed to cope with urgent care needs.
The major incident was stepped down by ULHT after 48 hours, but due to a large number of staff members being off sick or self-isolating with COVID-19, there is still a very high demand for hospital services.
To help cope with demand, a team of 30 armed forces staff will be based at Lincoln and Boston hospitals for the coming weeks, with 20 of them having military healthcare training and helping patient care in emergency departments, while a further 10 general duty officers will support non-clinical roles.
The personnel have already completed their inductions at the trust and started work at both Lincoln County and Pilgrim Hospital.
ULHT Chief Executive, Andrew Morgan, said: “The NHS has a well-established relationship with the military and they have provided amazing support throughout the pandemic in hospitals across the country, supporting ambulance Trusts and also assisting with the vaccination programme.
“As a Trust we are extremely grateful to receive their support and look forward to working alongside them in providing the best care for our patients over the next few weeks.
“Those patients needing specialist and medical care will still be seen by our own doctors and nurses. The military personnel will be able to assist with some elements of patient care and observations in our emergency departments, wards and other areas.”
When he spoke to The Lincolnite last week, Andrew Morgan confirmed, at the time of reporting (January 12), there were 780 employees off work, around 300 of which had tested positive for coronavirus.
Armed Force Minister, James Heappey, said: “This deployment is the latest example of how our dedicated Armed Forces have continuously stepped to support the UK’s response to this pandemic.
“20 medics and 10 general duty personnel will be working hand-in-hand with the fantastic staff of the NHS, just as thousands of other military personnel have done over the last two years, to help protect the nation from COVID-19.”
The same has also been done at East Midlands Ambulance Service, with military forces going through training stages to help with non-emergency patients, allowing EMAS professionals to get to urgent calls quicker.