Virgin Atlantic to support NHS COVID-19 response

Close up of a cabin crew member in uniform and with red nail polish, adjusting their wings on their uniform
Bradley Everied
Head shot of Tania Steere.  She is smiling, with long, wavy blonde hair
by Tania Steere
29 March 2020

Virgin Atlantic team members are set to support the NHS COVID-19 response as volunteers in a variety of frontline roles. The NHS has approached Virgin Atlantic to provide medically trained crew and trainers to be deployed across a range of services, including at the field hospital NHS Nightingale, in The London Ambulance Service, plus engineering and NHS Volunteer Responders opportunities.

Virgin Atlantic and easyJet are asking employees who have not been working since the COVID-19 pandemic grounded planes to consider helping at the new hospitals being built across the country, as well as in other positions. Many airline employees are already first aid trained or hold other clinical qualifications, and also hold security clearance.

Virgin Atlantic will write to approximately 4,000 of their employees from today, prioritising those with the required skills and training. Those who volunteer will perform duties including clinical support roles, under the close instruction of nurses and senior clinicians on the wards at the NHS Nightingale Hospitals across the country. Support workers will change beds, tend to patients and assist doctors and nurses working on the wards. The NHS has confirmed that they are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester, and other sites are being considered.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are very grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing in extremely challenging circumstances and we’re committed to doing all we can to support the national effort against the rapid acceleration of Covid-19.

“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organisations at this time of crisis. The NHS approached us with this unique opportunity as they recognise the value and experience our medically trained cabin crew and trainers will bring to the incredible Nightingale Hospital initiative. In addition, our cargo business is very busy with extra flights, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential medical supplies into the UK at this time.”

Staff and volunteers working at the new hospitals will also be offered free accommodation. Those staying in the hotels will have breakfast provided and lunch or dinner depending on the shifts that they are working.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Nurses, doctors and other vital health and social care staff are working day and night to provide the best possible care to patients as the NHS continues to fight this global health pandemic. The NHS is mobilising like never before, but the scale of this challenge has not been seen in peacetime so we need all the support we can get. Thousands of staff are returning to work alongside us, but we need everyone to do their bit - whether that is working in one of our current health or social care services, working in the Nightingale Hospital, volunteering to help the NHS or staying home to save lives.”

easyJet has also written to its UK-based employees asking if they would consider working at the NHS Nightgale Hospitals. St John Ambulance are supplying hundreds of volunteers to help staff the first Nightingale hospital at the ExCeL centre in London.

For more information head over to Virgin Atlantic.