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Coronavirus: Cabin crew and pilots head for the Whittington Hospital to help look after under-pressure staff

PUBLISHED: 17:05 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:05 02 April 2020

Cabin crew and pilots have arrived at the Whittington Hospital to help support NHS staff. Picture: Whittington Health

Cabin crew and pilots have arrived at the Whittington Hospital to help support NHS staff. Picture: Whittington Health

Archant

Staff at the Whittington Hospital are getting “the first class lounge” treatment from airline staff to help them cope with the strains of tackling coronavirus.

The Whittington NHS Trust is the first trust in the country to take part in the scheme – which is called Project Wingman.

At the Archway hospital it has seen pilots and cabin crew who are currently grounded turn part of the staff canteen into a space where for “tea and sympathy”.

Doctors, nurses and support staff are all able to take advantage of the support, which is designed to improve their wellbeing.

Captain Dave Fielding, who usually flies planes for British Airways, is one of those helping out.

Capt Fielding, who lives in King’s Cross, told this newspaper: “There are some amazing things going on. The idea is that we are using the skills we have as pilots and cabin crew to give the NHS staff a little bit of relaxation and just that feeling of them being looked after.”

The project, which features staff from across the airline industry, began on Wednesday.

Capt Fielding added: “So far, they love it. They can’t believe that we are taking the time to look after them. I had one person say to me: ‘I’ve never even met a pilot, and now there’s one making me tea.’

“Now there are a few smiles around, which is wonderful as I’ve been told they were in short supply. It’s been really important because they are going through a really tough time.”

Professor Rob Bor, a consultant psychologist who works both for the NHS at the Royal Free NHS Trust and as an airline clinical psychologist, helped put the scheme together.

He said: “We want to look after the wellbeing of all of all frontline NHS staff. We immediately thought of airline staff and reached out to them to support us.”

Whittington Health’s chief exec Siobhan Harrington added: “The impact of having uniformed fellow professionals actively support our front line staff will be enormous. We cannot thank the pilots and cabin crew enough.”


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