Army deployed to London hospitals as PM warned he can no longer 'dismiss' NHS staffing warnings
17 hospital trusts in England have declared critical incidents because of staffing shortages
Around 200 Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to London hospitals to support the NHS as it struggled with staff shortages.
Military medics will assist NHS doctors and nurses with patient care, while general duty personnel will help fill gaps caused by other absences.
The Ministry of Defence will provide 40 defence medics and 160 general duty personnel for the next three weeks, reports Sky News.
Patricia Marquis, the RCN's director for England, said: "The prime minister and others can no longer be dismissive of questions about the ability of NHS staff to deliver safe care.
"Once the military has been brought in, where does the government turn next in a bid to 'ride out' the wave rather than deal with it?"
As of Thursday, 17 hospital trusts in England have declared critical incidents.
But earlier this week, Boris Johnson said he hoped England could "ride out" the latest wave of Covid infections.
“The British Army” filling the gaping holes that this government and its predecessors have created in the NHS.
They are failing on Energy, Health,Education,Brexit,Covid and they’re also corrupt and born liars! Morning all and let’s have a great day😊 https://t.co/hppx8DgvEp
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) January 7, 2022
Speaking about the deployment of the army to London hospitals, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "The men and women of our Armed Forces are once again stepping up to support their dedicated colleagues in the NHS as they work hand-in-hand to protect the nation from COVID-19.
"They have shown their worth time and again throughout this pandemic, whether driving ambulances, administering vaccines or supporting patients in hospital, and they should be proud of their contribution to this truly national effort."
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Armed Forces minister James Heappey told Sky News: "London has made a request for support for hospitals that are struggling with winter pressures and Omicron and we're able to help by sending personnel in to help with both clinical and administrative tasks.
"This will help nursing staff deliver on the wards while soldiers and sailors do some of the other things for them.
"Sailors and medics will be working with doctors and nurses but that's not new. We've been doing that throughout the pandemic with trusts throughout the UK.
"It's also tried and tested for non-clinical personnel to go into hospitals to do administrative tasks to help wards running well."
The latest daily figures showed another 179,756 COVID cases and 231 deaths have been reported in the UK.
The latest count of COVID patients in hospital is 17,988, which is up on the 17,276 last reported. Of those, 875 require ventilation beds, down from 911.
And the number of deaths in the last seven days stands at 1,094, up by more than 56 percent on the previous week.