Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet have written to employees to ask them to consider staffing the temporary critical care field hospitals (known as Nightingale Hospitals) which are being set up to help the fight against coronavirus.
The two carriers are approaching staff who are not currently working due to the crisis, with Easyjet having written to all 9,000 of its UK based staff (including 4,000 cabin crew trained in CPR), and Virgin Atlantic writing to around 4,000 of their employees, prioritising “those with the required skills and training”.
In a press release Virgin Atlantic said that those who sign up “will perform clinical support roles, under the close instruction of nurses and senior clinicians on the wards at the NHS Nightingale Hospitals across the country”.
The carrier said that “Many airline staff are first aid trained or hold other clinical qualifications as well as being security cleared”.
Support workers will perform tasks including changing beds, tending to patients and assisting doctors and nurses working on the wards.
The first Nightingale Hospital is being built at Excel London, initially with 500 beds, but with capacity for this to rise to 4,000.
Staff and volunteers working at the new hospitals will be offered free accommodation, with those staying in hotels being provided with breakfast and lunch or dinner depending on the shifts that they are working.
As previously reported, several London hotels are staying opening to offer accommodation to NHS staff.
Commenting on the news 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.”
“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.
“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.”
“In addition, our cargo business is very busy with extra flights, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential medical supplies into the UK at this time.”