Donors have been urged to use their “best weapon” against Covid – being overpowered – as the military was under great strain to support hospitals in the capital.
Some 200 armed forces personnel are being made available to hospitals across the capital, which has been the epicenter of Omicron’s outbreak with a huge surge in cases.
The MoD said the deployment includes 40 military medics and 160 general duty personnel, helping to fill gaps caused by absenteeism with NHS staff unable to work because they are sick or self-isolating.
They will be deployed in 40 teams of five – including a medic and four support personnel – and will be targeted to areas where they are needed the most.
They are expected to be “on task” for the next three weeks.
London’s Minister Paul Scully insisted that bringing in the military was not a normal situation as the Omicron wave was sweeping the city at extraordinary speed.
He told Sky News: “When you talk about the armed forces around hospitals, they are not sitting there at war … its more people helping the NHS under undoubted pressure and that’s why we want that People go out and get vaccinated and promoted as it continues to put pressure on the NHS and our best weapon against Covid as we learn to live with Covid.”
Asked on LBC radio whether the Omicron wave appears to be waning in London, he said: “It looks encouraging, the trend at the moment, but clearly we still need to be on our guard because in London There is still pressure on the NHS.”
Official figures suggest that Covid cases may be peaking in the capital and hospitalizations may be difficult, however, it is too early to say either definitively given infections are still on the rise among elderly Londoners Those who are more vulnerable to the virus and its effects. It is yet to return to work and see school.
Mr Scully also stressed the absence of a high level of staff in the NHS in the city, as so many people had to self-isolate given the spread of the disease.
Dr Chand Nagpaul, president of the British Medical Association, told Sky News: “We have never known staff absenteeism of this level before” and thousands of patients were suffering the “results” of the pressure on the NHS.
He said that although Omicron was modest, people were still falling seriously ill with Covid-19 and hospitals were dealing with an NHS treatment backlog, with almost six million people on waiting lists.
He continued: “The reality of the Army being drafted in London, the reality of 24 hospitals declaring serious incidents, the reality of some hospitals canceling all their routine surgeries, the reality of normal practices canceling clinics on the day.
“I am a GP, I have never known it so bad. We have to literally contact patients without any notice that staff members or doctors or nurses are not there today because they are self-isolating.
“This is not normal, and therefore, the government needs to recognize that this is clearly an NHS under immense pressure and the sad thing for thousands of patients is that they suffer the consequences of such pressure and staff absenteeism. are.”
In addition, 32 military co-responders are being provided to support the South Central Ambulance Service, working with paramedics by the end of March.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The men and women of our Armed Forces are once again stepping forward to support our dedicated colleagues in the NHS as they work hand in hand to protect the nation from COVID-19.
“They have shown their value time and again during this pandemic, whether driving ambulances, administering vaccines or supporting patients in the hospital, and they should be truly proud of their contribution to this national effort.”
Around 1,800 service personnel are already deployed across the UK to support civilian authorities in their response to the pandemic.
These include 313 personnel provided to the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and 96 to the Scottish Ambulance Service.
More than 1,000 service personnel have been provided to support the Vaccine Booster Program.