The government said that 200 Armed Forces personnel had been
made available to support the National Health Service (NHS) in London for the
next three weeks.
Britain has seen a surge in coronavirus cases due to the
Omicron variant, and has reported over 150,000 new cases each day over the last
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that England can
withstand the surge without new restrictions thanks to vaccination and the
lower severity of the variant, but has warned of a challenging few weeks, as
staffing is disrupted as people self-isolate.
The government has also deployed armed forces to assist with
COVID-19 testing and vaccination programmes.
“Once again they are stepping up to assist NHS workers
who are working round the clock across the capital, helping the health service
through this difficult winter period where the need is greatest,” health
minister Sajid Javid said.
Britain has reported nearly 150,000 deaths from COVID-19,
and, two years into a pandemic, its state-run health service was already facing
a morale and staffing crisis even before the recent surge in omicron, a
lawmaker report published on Thursday said.
The report said that the staffing crisis could derail
efforts to catch-up with record waiting lists for elective treatment caused by
Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the Council of the British Medical
Association, said that there were unprecedented levels of staff absence in the
“Although the government has resorted to the army
helping out in London, let’s not forget we actually have a national problem at
the moment,” Nagpaul told Sky News.
“This is a national problem and we’ve never known this
level of staff absence before.”