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Airline staff to sign up as NHS volunteers during coronavirus pandemic

‘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,’ says easyJet’s director of cabin services

Helen Coffey
Monday 30 March 2020 09:49 BST
Nightingale Hospital, ExCel Centre, London
Nightingale Hospital, ExCel Centre, London (UK government)

Airlines are encouraging staff who have been grounded during the coronavirus pandemic to become NHS volunteers.

Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have both contacted workers asking them to consider signing up to help at the new Nightingale hospitals being built in anticipation of soaring numbers of patients struck down by Covid-19.

EasyJet has written to all 9,000 of its UK-based staff, including 4,000 CPR-trained cabin crew.

Virgin Atlantic is getting in touch with 4,000 employees, with a focus on those with the most relevant skills and training.

The NHS’s Project Nightingale will see new hospitals being built in London’s Excel centre, plus Birmingham and Manchester.

Volunteers will receive expert training before being deployed as support workers, changing beds, helping patients and assisting wherever necessary under the careful watch of nurses and senior clinicians.

Airline staff are particularly well-suited to the volunteering programme as many of them are first aiders and have already been given security clearance as part of the job.

“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,” said Tina Milton, director of cabin services for easyJet.

”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.“

Staff and volunteers working at the new hospitals will be offered free accommodation. Those staying in hotels will also have breakfast provided, plus lunch or dinner depending on their shift pattern.

Virgin Atlantic stressed that staff who volunteer will be given the appropriate safety equipment.

”The health and wellbeing of our people is our top priority and we’re working through all those details with the NHS right now and conducting risk assessments,“ a spokesperson said.

“The NHS have assured us that strict health and safety and Infection Protection will be in place, and Personal Protective Equipment will be provided for all staff working on Project Nightingale.”

Corneel Koster, chief customer officer at Virgin Atlantic, said the airline had been approached by the NHS “as they recognise the value and experience our medically trained cabin crew and trainers will bring to the incredible Nightingale Hospital initiative.”

She added: “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.

“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organisations at this time of crisis.”

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