Cabin crew to join medics at NHS Nightingale

Cabin crew will join doctors and nurses in staffing the new Nightingale hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has said.

Staff at Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel centre in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.

Their salaries will continue to be paid by the airlines.

Many first-aid trained cabin crew across the world have been grounded as countries have closed borders and cancelled flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

Ambulances at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital
Ambulances at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital (Yui Mok/PA)

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’s Ambulance have already said that hundreds of people will give their time at the first 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.”

Work being carried out at the ExCel centre in London
Work being carried out at the ExCel centre in London (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street)

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.”

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