Armed forces support for NHS welcome but longstanding workforce challenges must be resolved

07 January 2022

Responding to news that 200 armed forces personnel have been made available to support the NHS in London, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"Trust leaders will welcome the support of colleagues from the armed forces during what continues to be an incredibly challenging time for the NHS in London.

"The NHS has worked closely with the military throughout the pandemic, with the rollout of the vaccination programme and support for ambulance services as notable examples where collaboration has been invaluable.

"Colleagues outside of London and across the country who are currently planning for further growth in Omicron infection rates and hospital attendance will also be keeping a close eye on the potential for additional support.

"But the fact that we need to call upon army medics and general duty personnel at all underlines the sheer scale of the workforce challenges the NHS is facing.

"We are operating in unprecedented times. The experience of the pandemic makes plain underlying issues which need resolution – the need for a national long term plan for the health and care workforce, ongoing challenges with vacancies and recruitment pre-dating the pandemic by a number of years.

"Rising staff absences connected with COVID-19 are making these long-standing issues even more challenging."

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