Army personnel have been deployed on the Isle of Wight to help with the reconfiguration of St Mary’s hospital as part of the national planned mutual aid arrangements for military support for major incidents.
The NHS on the Island is putting in place its plans for the expected increase in people who need hospital treatment because of COVID-19.
As part of this, a detachment of 40 men and women from the Scots Guards arrived on the Island on Saturday night.
Their role is to support the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s Estates Department in implementing its plans to reconfigure large parts of the hospital so more beds will be available.
Work has already started at the St Mary’s site on converting the Laidlaw Day Hospital, the Education Centre and the Outpatients Appointments and Records Unit into in-patient accommodation for a possible extra 200 beds.
Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “It’s no secret that across the NHS, and certainly here on the Island, people have been working very hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and under extraordinary pressure.
“Our teams at the hospital and in our ambulance, community and mental health services have risen to the challenges of the last few weeks and we are hugely grateful for their hard work. But we know there is more work to come and we are doing everything we possibly can to be ready.
“I am glad to welcome the Scots Guards to help us bring in 200 new beds to our hospital site. Having these brave men and women working alongside us will give us the extra support we need to get this huge amount of work done as quickly as possible.”
Dave Stewart, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council said: “It is comforting to know that we now have the military’s aid for the plans we have to support our community throughout these unprecedented times.
“However, we should never lose sight of the fact that if everyone takes responsibility for their own actions and follows the very clear advice for social distancing and self-isolation, then we can slow down the spread of the virus.
“We should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”