Eddie Mair 4pm - 6pm
Cabin Crew to join NHS medics at coronavirus Nightingale hospitals
30 March 2020, 07:11
Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet cabin crew will join NHS medics in the new Nightingale hospitals built to help the nation deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Airline staff have been asked to volunteer to staff the new 4,000-bed coronavirus facility based at London's Excel Centre, and the ones planned in Birmingham and Manchester.
All cabin crew are first-aid trained and airlines have already started writing to staff to ask them to give their time while grounded to the NHS.
Airlines will continue to pay their salaries.
EasyJet has already written to its 9,000 UK-based staff including 4,000 cabin crew trained in CPR to invite them to give their time to the NHS.
Virgin Atlantic will begin writing to 4,000 of its employees on Monday and will prioritise getting in touch with those who already have the required skills.
Those who join up will be given expert training and will then perform support roles such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses.
St John Ambulance have already said that hundreds of their volunteers will give their time at the first Nightingale hospital in London.
On Monday morning Ruth May, the chief nursing officer for England, said about 100 cabin crew have so far expressed an interest in volunteering at the new Nightingale Hospital in London.
"The latest help is coming from our airline crew and I'm very grateful that they're going to be part, if they volunteer of course, they will be part of our team, supporting our healthcare professionals and making sure we are able to care for our patients coming through our doors," she told reporters.
"So far, we've got about 100 or so that have already expressed an interest... to be working as part of our healthcare team.
"Obviously our doctors, nurses, our physios, all of them will be leading the healthcare of our patients.
"These people, along with our St John Ambulance volunteers, along with our many, many other support staff, will be working as a team at the Nightingale Hospital in London."
Corneel Koster, chief customer officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: "We are 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."
EasyJet has said it is "proud" its staff can support medics at this "crucial time".
Tina Milton, director of cabin services, added: "The NHS is at the forefront of dealing with this health emergency but the training and skills our cabin crew have, working closely with the medical professionals, could help make a real difference."
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said the NHS needs "all the support we can get".
She added: "Thousands of nurses, medics and other expert 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 following government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."