Royal Free and Whittington hospitals receive armed forces support

The Royal Free Hospital

The Royal Free hospital trust said it was not yet seeing a 'significant' rise in Covid-19 patients - but London-wide, the number has doubled in a month and is rapidly climbing - Credit: Archant

Both Whittington Health and the Royal Free London have accepted support from the armed forces in an effort to deal with Covid-19. 

The Ministry of Defence confirmed on January 7 that around 200 armed forces personnel were to be deployed to help London hospitals cope with staff shortages. 

As of January 2, Whittington Health had 138 staff members off with Covid. The Royal Free had 297.

A Whittington Health spokesperson told the Ham&High: “Like NHS services across the country, our staff are working incredibly hard in the face of significant pandemic-related pressures. 

“Whittington Health accepted an offer made to London NHS Trusts of temporary assistance from the armed forces as part of their support to the NHS pandemic response. 

“20 personnel, including four medics and some who have already worked at other trusts, arrived at Whittington Health for their induction today (Friday January 7) and will be with the trust until January 28. 

“We welcome the opportunity to draw on the impressive mix of skills, experience, and positivity of defence personnel. They will be deployed in areas of greatest need in line with their skills.  

Most Read

“It remains the case that the best support NHS staff can receive is from people getting any doses of the Covid vaccine they are still eligible for, taking sensible precautions to limit the spread of the virus, and thinking 111 first when help is needed urgently.” 

The Royal Free London said it would be receiving assistance from around 20 members of the armed forces, who would be working primarily in non-clinical roles. 

Cllr Danny Thorpe, London Councils' executive member for health and care, has issued a statement urging Londoners to continue to test and get vaccinated.

He said: “It is encouraging that 90% of adult Londoners have now received their first dose.  

“Even if you are unvaccinated or haven’t had your second dose, it’s not too late – please get your next vaccination as soon as possible. Protection starts with one dose. 

“Boroughs will continue to support our communities, businesses and key services in every way we can, but all Londoners have a part to play in reducing transmission of the virus.  

“Whether it’s testing twice a week, washing your hands regularly, or business owners keeping staff and customers safe, every effort to protect yourself and others is vital.”