UK Airline staff to assist with COVID-19 fight

The NHS has enlisted easyJet and Virgin Atlantic to work alongside NHS clinicians at new Nightingale hospitals as part of the fight against coronavirus.

The airlines are asking airline cabin crew staff who have not been working since the COVID-19 pandemic grounded many planes to consider helping the thousands of doctors, nurses and other medics at the new hospitals being built across the country.

EasyJet has already written to all 9,000 of its UK based staff, which includes 4,000 cabin crew who are trained in CPR, while Virgin Atlantic will write to approximately 4,000 of their employees from Monday (30 March), prioritising those with the required skills and training.

Those who sign up will perform support roles, under the close instruction of nurses and senior clinicians on the wards at the NHS Nightingale Hospitals across the country. Support workers will work alongside experienced clinicians, changing beds, doing other non-clinical tasks and helping doctors and nurses working on the wards.

The NHS has confirmed that the new hospitals are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester and other sites are being considered should the need arise.

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.”

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.

Tina Milton, Director of Cabin Services for easyJet, said: “We have all needed the NHS at some point in our lives and so we are so proud that our crew can now help to support the NHS at this crucial time. 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.”

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. 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.”