Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Military Medics Could Help NHS If Second Wave Strikes

A committee of Lords was also told that military planning during the COVID-19 response was more important than numbers of personnel.

Military medics could be brought in to assist the National Health Service if there is a second spike in coronavirus cases in the winter.

A committee of Lords was also told that military planning during the COVID-19 response was more important than numbers of personnel.

Earlier this year the military was used to get temporary hospitals up and running at sites across the UK, including London's ExCel and Birmingham's NEC, but their role could change if extra NHS capacity is needed again.

"A lot of our clinicians and surgeons are routinely seconded to the NHS - that's where they practise their skills on a daily basis," Lieutenant General Douglas Chalmers, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, explained.

"We left them firmly in place and sort of augmented where we could, but we have other elements of our combat medical technicians and stuff like that, that we are still working through, that we could probably bring them in to help," he added.

Logistical help has also been essential for the delivery of supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) and oxygen to hospitals.

This week, a group of MPs voiced concerns over whether the Government had "made full use" of experts, including those in the Armed Forces, during the coronavirus outbreak.

Military personnel hands test to driver in Hyde Park CORONAVIRUS 150520 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Military personnel have been helping run coronavirus mobile testing units across the UK since the pandemic started (Picture: MOD).

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, it meant for the second time in two years the Armed Forces were asked to help with a major health crisis.

The first was the nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury, from which they drew valuable experiences later put into practice in their response to the pandemic.

The rules of military aid to civil authorities were changed this time, so that if the forces could help, it did not need to be proved that they were the only ones capable of doing so.

"What that did was set us up very well for our earlier response in COVID," Former Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, Tracy Daszkiewicz, said.

Ms Daszkiewicz added that this allowed them to "start those conversation very early with colleagues", meaning they were also able to "start to put those systems in place".

UK Armed Forces personnel are continuing to play a key role in the country's response to the pandemic.

At its peak, 20,000 troops were at readiness, with more than 4,000 of them were deployed at any one time.

In May, the MOD announced that the number of personnel on standby under the COVID Support Force (CSF) would be reduced, with the current number available standing at 6,673.