NHS workers stranded abroad say they're desperate to get home to help

NHS workers stranded in Australia are calling on the Government to help them get home.

Laura Mclaughlin said British nurses feel like ‘everyone hasturned their back on us’ as they try to return home amid ongoing flightcancellations.

The 27-year-old A&E nurse, who has lived in Sydney for three years, has organised a group of over-50 medics who want to rejoin the NHS to help them fight coronavirus.

She said former colleagues in the UK have told her they are ‘so short-staffed’ they need as much help as possible.

Ms Mclaughlin said she had managed to secure a seat on theflight from Darwin to Heathrow, but there were a number of NHS staff, includingdoctors and physiotherapists, who are still searching for a route back.

She said: ‘We’ve been to the embassy, trying to get hold of people to help us, but we’re just getting no answers.

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‘I don’t think it’s good enough. We need to be prioritisingflights for the NHS key workers to be getting home to be helping the pandemic.

‘I have hopefully got this flight confirmed for tomorrow, but it’s still helping all the other people along the way trying to get home.’

She said one-way flights to the UK were costing upwards of 13,000 dollars (£6,600), adding: ‘As nurses, we don’t have that sort of money to be able to book a flight and get home.

‘We’re really keen to come and help but we’re all feeling alittle bit like everyone has turned their back on us at the moment.

‘It’s such a long way to be stuck with no flights with nohelp from the embassy or the Government.’

Paramedic Ned Starling, who has worked for London Ambulance Service for five years, said he spent all day on Tuesday at Sydney International Airport searching for flights.

The 28-year-old, who has been travelling around Australiafor three months with his girlfriend, who is a nurse, said he was in a Facebookgroup with another 500 NHS workers looking to get back from Australia.

He said: ‘If there’s any way of just promoting this idea that if there is repatriation, there’s a whole bunch of useful people that are willing to come back now, as soon as possible, to work.

‘I personally feel that these are people that need to beback in the country.

‘My reason for wanting to come back is really because I wantto provide some help at home.’

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We recognise Britishtourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of theunprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are beingintroduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

‘The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers in this situation to allow them to come back to the UK.’

Qantas is to operate the first non-stop flight from Darwinto Heathrow to help travellers struggling to return to the UK.

Its flagship Sydney to London service usually flies viaSingapore but, due to travel restrictions on international journeys, theairline has been forced to find an alternative route.

Australian carrier Qantas will temporarily operate itsSydney to London flight via the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory,where the Airbus A380 aircraft will stop off to refuel.

The flight to the UK’s largest airport from Darwin will take16 hours and 45 minutes – believed to be the first non-stop flight between thetwo destinations.

The temporary route will only operate this week, before Qantas suspends all international flights until May 31 at the earliest.

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