The Ministry of Defence is working alongside the UK Government to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic. The MOD has announced it will boost the numbers of deployed military personnel to aid public services and provide extra resources. The objective is to relieve pressure on the NHS, as well as assisting in the planning and co-ordination of the Government’s Coronavirus strategy across the UK.
The MOD is forming a COVID Support Force
As concern about the Coronavirus pandemic rises, the MOD has confirmed it is putting an additional 10,000 military personnel at a higher readiness as part of a new ‘COVID Support Force’. This is on top of the 10,000 personnel that are already on high alert, effectively doubling the military response to a 20,000 support force. It is understood that these measures have been put in place for contingency planning and to help the Government respond promptly.
This is not the MOD’s first involvement in the Coronavirus response. The Department has already assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan, as well as providing specialist crisis management to public services, local authorities and the emergency services, to improve and streamline the national response.
The MOD has planned further responses to the Coronavirus crisis, including:
- 150 military personnel will be trained to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required – staff will be trained imminently.
- Measures to call on Reservists, in the case they are required to assist in the response effort, have been taken. This is due to Army shortages, while recent training exercise trips to Kenya and Canada have been cancelled to boost numbers as much as possible.
- Scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are combining efforts with Public Health England to understand the virus and its behaviour, and to tackle its spread.
The military is available to provide support to civil authorities in times of need, as shown in the Army’s involvement in rescue and relief operations during the recent flooding in the north of England. The MOD has well-rehearsed mechanisms in place to effectively aid the COVID-19 response to provide safety for public services, local authorities and citizens across the UK.
Major General Charlie Stickland, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Operations and Commitments, said: “The COVID Support Force, potentially drawing upon our highly skilled scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory or oxygen tanker drivers, will form part of a whole-force effort to support the country during its time of need. Our Servicemen and women are committed to maintain our operational output and delivering any support the Government requires.”
The MOD is supplying to the NHS
As concern around the Coronavirus rises, the Minister for the Armed Forces has confirmed that the MOD will lend as many ventilators as possible to the NHS. Although this is likely to only be a small fraction, it indicates that increased military presence and involvement will be inevitable as the situation evolves.
This announcement came as the Government made an official call for businesses to help manufacture NHS ventilators – an opportunity for both new and existing suppliers to support in the Coronavirus response. The production of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK will provide much-needed additional resources to the NHS and enable higher patient treatment capacity in hospitals.
Can your organisation help in the Coronavirus response?
If your organisation would like to get involved in the national Coronavirus response, DCI’s tools, resources and market intelligence can help you make this happen. DCI hosts the largest defence contracts database in Europe, and we provide organisations of all specialisms with defence contract opportunities that are relevant to your business and desired undertaking.
In these unprecedented times, new and existing suppliers in defence procurement will play an instrumental role in driving public services, local authorities and the Government itself forward. If your organisation can support the UK’s Coronavirus response, get in touch with the DCI team today.