Europe

Army on standby to help save NHS from collapse this winter

Covid restrictions: Boris Johnson quizzed on wearing facemasks

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The threat of COVID-19 cases rising and the emergence of winter flu means doctors and nurses could be overwhelmed by the demand for their services this winter. Mr Wallace stated that soldiers are ready to carry out tasks such as administering vaccines, testing for Covid, driving ambulances and providing any additional support that the NHS may require.

Speaking on a visit to Scotland, Mr Wallace said: “We’ve got plenty of armed forces personnel available, and in winter we put on standby thousands of military personnel, mainly because of our experience of floods and things.”

When confirming the numbers involved, the Defence Minister said: “We have already put on standby something like 4,000-plus people, for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Troops have already been roped in to assist with the HGV driver shortage crisis that saw fuel supplies in the UK reach critical levels, with queues of traffic building up at pumps around the nation.

And the new pledge also promises to help with any further logistical problems, as well as assist in the event of any major flooding over the winter months.

Members of the British armed forces were heavily involved in the building of Nightingale Hospitals providing extra space during the peak of the pandemic in 2020.

Medical experts believe the surge in Covid cases over winter could come as people’s immunity from vaccines start to wear thin, and seasonal flu’s also spread as per the normal conditions around the time of year.

Many hospitals in the UK are already stretched to capacity, with thousands of routine operations and surgeries cancelled due to the impact of the virus.

According to the MacMillan cancer support group, there are currently around 50,000 missing diagnoses in the UK, meaning that compared to a similar timeframe last year, 50,000 fewer people have been diagnosed, meaning the impact of the Covid virus is far more widespread than thought.

With Covid cases on the rise, arguments have emerged for a ‘Plan B’ to come into force, which would mean the introduction of compulsory facemasks, and work from home orders returning, essentially suggesting a mini-lockdown.

Putting the move on ice, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: At the moment the data does not suggest we should immediately be moving to Plan B.”

Further adding to the pressure being felt by the NHS, The Nursing Times warned that the NHS was “buckling” under the strain of winter pressures.

Figures suggest that NHS England noted that staff had to deal with 2.1 million A&E in the month of June this year, up some 180,000 patients compared to the previous month.

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Speaking of the pressure on NHS staff meeting targets, RCN Acting general secretary, Pat Cullen said: “safe and effective patient care must be at the centre of the plan to recover from Covid-19, but it can’t come at the expense of nursing staff and their wellbeing.”

Calling on the action needed, she said, “It’s time for the government to be honest and transparent about the service that can be provided with the current nursing vacancies.”

Government scientific advisors have suggested that more than 6,000 Covid hospitalizations a day could be on the agenda.

37,000 new cases and 38 deaths have been reported in the UK on Monday, with figures excluding Wales due to a ‘technical issue.’

With many frustrated at previous instructions over Christmas, Health Secretary Sajid Javid suggested that Christmas would be ‘normal’ this year.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “For all those people like me that are hoping and planning for a normal Christmas – which I do by the way… I think that’s where we’ll be, we’ll have a normal Christmas – if we want let’s just keep playing our part.”

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