HOSPITALS in Somerset have said "a huge thank you" to military personnel who have helped during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the armed forces were welcomed to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and Yeovil Hospital last month, and helped with many different tasks.

These included: welcoming people to the hospital; ensuring they had access to PPE; making beds; assisting with cleaning routines; helping to prepare and distribute food and so on.

Carl Turnbull, leading engineering technician (weapons) at the 1700 Naval Air Squadron, said: “From helping with meal times and cleaning on the ward, to collecting things from the pharmacy – we were happy to help and were delighted to be here. Everyone has been so welcoming and appreciative.

"It’s nice to come away at the end of the day and know we’ve been able to help in some way.”

A presentation was held at Musgrove Park Hospital yesterday (February 19). Somerset NHS Foundation chief nurse Hayley Peters awarded a Somerset star to the military team.

Dave Thomas, deputy chief nurse at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital, said that having the assistance of the naval personnel for non-clinical tasks had been invaluable.

“We want to say a huge thank you to our military colleagues who have helped us to release important time for our colleagues,” he said.

“This has been vital in allowing our team of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals to be able to focus solely on caring for our patients. The naval team fitted in really well at Musgrove Park Hospital and worked very hard, over long days.”

WO1 Lee Schofield from the 1700 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose presented the hospital with a commemorative 1700 plaque.

“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-19 support force, the UK’s largest peacetime deployment at home," he said.

“It has 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-19.”

Yeovil Express: Somerset NHS says thank you to military colleagues. Pic: Somerset CCG

A similar event also took place at Yeovil Hospital.

Matron of Yeovil Hospital’s Emergency Department, Fiona Higginson, was full of praise for the military colleagues.

“We have had fantastic support from the military team across the hospital in a variety of supporting roles," she added.

"They have been signposting patients to ensure guidance is understood and followed and provided a huge amount of reassurance for both our patients and staff, as well as taking on a variety of practical roles.

“In the emergency department at Yeovil Hospital we have been lucky enough to work with Andreas, who has been a delight to have within the team.

"His enthusiasm was evident throughout and his commitment to being part of the team was appreciated by everyone who came into contact with him.

"When I spoke with him yesterday he told me he has loved it so much he is now considering how he might be able to look at his forces career with a medical focus.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed him being part of our team and thank him and his colleagues for the work they have done during this exceptionally challenging period.

"This has been an example of true collaboration that we can be very proud of!”

Commander Russ Clark, commanding officers 815 naval air squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, said he was "extremely proud" of the thirty Wildcat Maritime Force personnel.

"They have been made to feel very welcome and integrated for a variety of roles," he added.

"Notably, they have shared emotional experiences, learnt a lot and witnessed the NHS staff and their tireless efforts to provide the best possible patient care; a humbling experience.”