Military drafted in to help two under-pressure NHS boards

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing 'significant' strain.

Military drafted in to help two under-pressure NHS boards MOD Crown Copyright. via Gov.uk
Military assistance to ease the pressure on two NHS health boards.

The Scottish Government has requested military assistance to ease the “unprecedentedpressure on two NHS health boards.

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing “significant” strain due to a rise in Covid-19 admissions and a backlog in care.

NHS Lanarkshire will receive three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers who will be working in acute settings.

NHS Borders will receive 14 military medics, two nurses and four additional military personnel will provide assistance in acute settings.

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Two military medics will oversee operations from the army’s headquarters in Scotland at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.

The support personnel will be from the Royal Navy but the medically qualified staff will be from the Army.

Judith Park, director of Acute Services at NHS Lanarkshire, said the “very welcome” assistance would be in place across the board’s Monklands, Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals.

The 86 personnel in total will arrive in Scotland on Sunday, October 17, and are currently set to begin work on Tuesday, October 19.

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The Ministry of Defense said support would initially be provided until November 10, but this will be reviewed nearer that date.

The military is already providing 114 personnel as drivers for the Scottish Ambulance Service and 111 at Covid-19 Mobile Testing Units.

Brigadier Ben Wrench, commander of Joint Military Command Scotland, said: “The Armed Forces in Scotland as always stand ready to support civil society in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The ability of trained military healthcare professionals and their support team to deploy at short notice and provide short term support to cover a critical gap shows the utility of the Armed Forces and the strength of the ongoing relationship with partner civilian organisations.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the NHS was experiencing unprecedented pressure due to coronavirus admissions and a backlog in care.

“In the NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire areas, staff shortages because of Covid-19 are affecting bed capacity and temporary military assistance has been requested to support the boards at this time,” he said.

“With increasing levels of social mixing and close social contact it is expected that this winter COVID-19 will circulate alongside respiratory viruses, such as flu, adding to the winter pressures usually faced by the NHS.