Around 200 armed forces personnel are deployed to assist the NHS in London amid a critical shortage of healthcare workers.
The move will see military and general personnel assisting with patient care and, respectively, administrative duties.
The Royal College of Nursing said the deployment means the government can no longer deny that there is a ‘personnel crisis’ within the NHS.
It comes as new figures show London has replaced the north-west of England as the country’s Covid epicenter, with higher proportions of older people admitted to hospitals.
Patricia Marquis, Director for England at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The Prime Minister and others can no longer ignore questions about the ability of NHS staff to provide safe care.
“Once the army has been recruited, who does the government then turn to in an attempt to ‘ride’ the wave rather than deal with it? “
And Dr Chaand Nagpaul said “we have never experienced this level of staff absence before” and that the pressure facing the health service and general practitioners “is not normal”.
But the minister insists there is “no need” for new restrictions based on the situation of the Covid pandemic, according to Sky News.
Tory says she doesn’t know how many EU citizens left the NHS after Brexit
Meanwhile, a Conservative Health Minister has claimed she does not know how many EU citizens have left the NHS because of Brexit – but insisted the vacancies they left have been “more than provided”.
Asked if Britain had more or less NHS staff because of Brexit, Gillian Keegan said: ‘We have more NHS staff in general and they come from all over the place. In fact, the last to come to my own hospital were from the Philippines. They come from everywhere.
She went on to boast that Britain had “open visas” for “people from many parts of the world, including Europe”.
Reid presented figures from two years ago, that 22,000 EU nationals have left the NHS since the EU referendum in 2016. “That was two years ago, so I didn’t have no idea what the numbers are now, but you’re each saying these positions have been held by someone else, ”she said.
“What we have, in general, are net numbers, 10,000 more nurses and 5,000 more doctors, so they’ve more than filled, they’ve also been replaced,” Keegan insisted.
On Thursday, 17 hospital trusts in England declared critical incidents, indicating that priority services may not be delivered safely.
And MPs from all parties have warned 5.8 million people are awaiting treatment, with Tory MP Jeremy Hunt telling the current Tory government to “wake up to the scale of the staffing crisis facing the NHS” .
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