Praise from NHS for sailors and marines helping in Somerset’s hospitals

Sailors and Royal Marines have been singled out by hospital bosses in Somerset for helping out in the town’s hospital during the pandemic.

A team of 20 military personnel – drawn from nearby RNAS Yeovilton and RM Chivenor in North Devon – have been helping to alleviate the burden on NHS staff over the past few weeks with the Covid pandemic at its peak.

They’ve been awarded the ‘Somerset Star’ for their efforts – presented each month by the NHS Foundation to the stand-out member of staff or volunteer(s).

A mixiblob of RN/RM personnel (the former Wildcat engineers from 815 and 825 Naval Air Squadrons at nearby RNAS Yeovilton, plus a mix of marines, sailors and soldiers from the Commando Logistic Regiment at RM Chivenor in North Devon.)

As elsewhere across the South West, the military muscle has helped free NHS medical staff for urgent clinical duties.

The team in Yeovil have been ensuring everyone entering the hospital follows PPE rules, cleaning ‘touch points’, sanitising areas, making beds and performing ‘deep cleans’ where needed.

They’ve also joined in the preparation and distribution of food and overseen the arrival, stowage and hand-out of stores across the site.

Yeovil Hospital’s Emergency Department Matron Fiona Higginson said the military team had shown enthusiasm and commitment – and some were even looking to switch roles and re-train as medics in the Forces after their experiences on the wards.

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

Yeovil Hospital’s Emergency Department Matron Fiona Higginson

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

“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.

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

Another team from the two maritime Wildcat squadrons has been helping out over the Wiltshire border in Salisbury.

“We are extremely proud of our thirty Wildcat Maritime Force personnel – predominantly air engineers – working alongside our NHS friends at Salisbury and Yeovil Hospitals and the manner in which they have approached the task,” said 815 Naval Air Squadron’s Commanding Officer Commander Russ Clark.

“They have been made to feel very welcome and integrated for a variety of roles. 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.”

Personnel from 1700 Naval Air Squadron have been assisting at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, where NHS chiefs also presented the sailors with a Somerset Star.

Chief nurse Hayley Peters handed over the award in recognition of the contribution the team has made during their time at the hospital to WO1 Lee Schofield, who responded by presenting a squadron crest.

Natalie Griffin, who works on Musgrove Park’s Portman Ward, said the team from Culdrose had been “truly amazing”.

She continued: “Their professionalism has been to a very high standard in their appearance and attitude. They arrive for every shift early, ready to start on time, and have been very supportive, not only to the team but also to the patients. We were very lucky to have them.”