NHS trust could issue ‘compulsory’ order to front line as ‘depleted’ workforce struggles to cope

All staff at a mental health trust have been issued a call to arms to help frontline work as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

An internal note to staff at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, seen by the PA news agency, says that hundreds of staff are off sick and the bank and agency staff “depleted”.

The trust issued a note to all staff asking them to volunteer for frontline work.

And if not enough staff come forward there could be a need for “compulsory redeployment”, the message states.

“Our own situation has worsened over the weekend and we have more staff off sick and a greater need in critical care and frontline services,” the note says.

“Our bank and agency supplies are depleted.

“So we are asking staff to volunteer for this frontline work now.

“Your clinical skills are vital and transferrable; the training you have and the experience you have accumulated in all services can keep the NHS fully open and cope with the surge in demand.”

The note says that 373 staff members are off sick – 144 with Covid-19 and 110 who are self-isolating.

Senior leaders at the trust said that hopefully staff will come forward to help but add: “As the situation is so critical, if we don’t manage to cover these services by tomorrow we will need to ask managers to cancel current leave and support compulsory redeployment.”

Health leaders have asked people to stick to the stay at home rules, saying that in many parts of the country the virus is “spreading out of control”.

It comes as a separate leaked plan, seen by The Independent, suggests that non clinical staff in London could be drafted in to help nurses and doctors as they prepare for the peak of Covid-19 cases.

NHS bosses in the capital have set out a plan for a mass redeployment of non clinical staff who could be working on wards answering telephones, fetching equipment and in some cases helping patients to eat and drink, as well as recording patient details for doctors and nurses, according to the newspaper.

Last week Mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London due to the rapid spread of the virus and the rising number of people admitted to hospitals.

Hospitals have never been busier with Covid patients, with more than 32,000 people seriously ill with Covid-19 being treated in hospital around the UK.

The mass vaccination programme against the virus is in full swing but health chiefs have said that the effects will not be seen in hospitals for weeks.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Peter Byrne / PA Wire.