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Coronavirus: The National Health Service may have to hire onboard staff from the airlines

Nurse wearing protective gear

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NHS in England could start hiring airline staff who have lost their jobs to fill a gap in the number of nurses, its chief executive said.

Sir Simon Stevens told MPs airlines to hire NHS nurses to work as cabin crew in the early 2000s.

It was now possible that the National Health Service would consider hiring this staff as the airline industry continues to struggle with coronavirus.

He was talking to the Commons public accounts committee.

Sir Simon told the committee that the health service saw an “amazing response” from the former SSN staff who were ready to return to the front lines to help fight Covid-19.

But he added that international recruitment for NHS staff would be a problem for the first half of this year due to the pandemic.

‘On background’

The National Health Service in England currently has a 40,000 nursing staff gap. Sir Simon said he wanted to see 50,000 nurses join the service.

Sir Simon told the MPS that the National Health Service should change the way it offers care, with the coronavirus constantly “in the background”.

Agreements made with private hospitals to provide beds during the coronavirus crisis should continue, he added, and Nightingale hospitals, set up to treat Covid-19 patients and manage excess demand for hospital beds, would kept “confidential”.

NHS hospitals had treated 89,000 coronavirus patients since the outbreak in the UK in February, Sir Simon told the committee.

And emergency and emergency room attendances, which had seen a decline, were starting to return to their expected levels.

Chris Wormald, the chief official in the Department of Health and Social Assistance, told the committee that the United Kingdom “has never exhausted personal protective equipment (PPE) nationally”.

But he said “there were many problems” in bringing IPR to NHS staff and health workers.

The government was trying to produce IPR nationally, he added, but there would be “no imminent replacement of what we have to buy on international markets.”

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