How the navy are helping fight Covid in West Country hospitals

Royal Navy sailors from 1700 Naval Air Squadron on the heli-pad at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
Many of 1700 Naval Air Squadron have recently returned from serving on ships around the world. Credit: Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Hospital staff have thanked Royal Navy sailors who are working alongside them as they meet a surge in demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of a wider campaign by the military to support the NHS, sailors from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose are working at hospitals across the South West.

Eight of the team are helping in Bristol and 20 others are lending a hand at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. 

They are part of 1700 Naval Air Squadron and many have recently returned from serving on ships around the world, including in the Gulf and Caribbean.

They include weapon specialists, helicopter engineers, aircraft handlers and even a steward and a chef.

A spokeswoman for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said: “We were delighted to welcome military colleagues from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, who are working alongside our teams at Musgrove Park.

“They’re here to support the NHS response to the second wave of the pandemic and having their support with routine tasks has been invaluable.

"It means our nursing and allied health professional colleagues can have more time to focus on caring for our patients.

“Thank you to everyone who is working with us - we’re really grateful for your help and support.”

Credit: ITV West Country

Warrant Officer Schofield, of 1700 Naval Air Squadron, said: “My team, having just returned back from their respective ships protecting the nation’s interests around the world, were very keen to be part of the Covid Support Force, the UK’s largest peacetime deployment at home.

“It’s a privilege to lead this team in offering as much assistance as possible to the NHS during the pandemic.

“My sailors were overwhelmed by the reception and the gratitude of everyone at Musgrove Park, and continue to be motivated to help in whatever way possible to get the nation through these trying times. It feels good to do our bit in the fight against Covid.”

Leading Engineering Technician Carl Turnbull added: “From helping with meal times and cleaning on the ward, to collecting things from the pharmacy – we are happy to help and delighted to be here.

“Everyone has been so welcoming and appreciative. It’s a nice to come away at the end of the day and know we’ve been able to help in some way.”

1700 Naval Air Squadron is based at RNAS Culdrose in Helston and supplies teams of specialist sailors to allow flying operations from Royal Navy warships and their support ships.

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