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Airlines ask grounded cabin crew to serve the nation at field hospitals

Fit for action: Soldiers lay out carpet at ExCel London PICTURE: UK MOD

CABIN crew from grounded airlines will be recruited to help out in the new Nightingale hospital at ExCel London and similar centres in Birmingham and Manchester, the NHS has said.

Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet staff will be asked to volunteer at the 4,000-bed clinic in the capital and make use of their first aid skills while their jobs are on hold. Their salaries will continue to be paid by the airlines.

Those who join up will be given expert training and will then perform support roles such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses.

Skilful: Army personnel are helping finish the field hospital PICTURE: ANDREW PARSONS

EasyJet has already written to its 9,000 UK-based staff, including 4,000 trained in CPR, to invite them to sign up for NHS Nightingale, which is expected to open this Saturday.

The carrier said it was ‘proud’ its staff can support medics at the site that is rapidly taking shape in east London, saying their skill sets ‘could help make a real difference’. Virgin Atlantic will begin writing to 4,000 of its employees today. It said it was ‘grateful’ for the hard work of front-line NHS staff and was committed to supporting them.

Taking shape: NHS Nightingale nears completion PICTURE: ANDREW PARSONS

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said the NHS needs ‘all the support we can get’. Meanwhile, a petition to name Birmingham’s new field hospital after Mary Seacole, the British-Jamaican nurse who cared for soldiers during the Crimean War, is gathering pace.

Activist Patrick Vernon said the move would act as a ‘beacon of hope and diversity for the country’.