Military personnel in wards from Friday

Military personnel will begin work in the Borders General Hospital on Friday following a few days of induction training.

Sarah Horan, director of nursing at the NHS Borders with Captain Emily Palmer. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Sarah Horan, director of nursing at the NHS Borders with Captain Emily Palmer. Photo: Bill McBurnie.

It’s hoped the 20 service men and women will be able to take some of the strain off existing NHS Borders staff at the hospital, as part of the Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA) scheme.

Nursing director Sarah Horan told us: “We’re looking at them being in the wards by the end of the week, just getting used to the environment.

"A lot of them have got experience in healthcare, both in military and civilian hospitals, so it’s just a case of orientating them to get used to our way of working and our staff will do what they can to support them.”

She added: “It really is essential.

"We've done all we can to recruit more staff, and we have new staff starting in the next six to eight weeks.

"But our staff, which I think everyone is aware of, are absolutely exhausted.

"They have worked relentlessly with real courage and commitment to the people of the Borders for the past 19 months, so anything we can do as the senior team at NHS Borders to support our staff, we will do, hence why we have asked for the military support and why we have got them here."

Ms Horan said the extra help from the military will be in situ until the end of November when the situation will be reviewed again, but she warned that “other health boards in Scotland are looking for military help as well, and there are only a finite number of soldiers, so we have to use them the best way we can.”

However, the soldiers themselves can’t wait to get started in the wards.

Speaking to the Southern this afternoon, Captain Emily Palmer (RAMC) of the 1 Medical Regiment, said: “We are due to start working in the hospital on Friday on medical and surgical wards.

"We have two trained nurses, a number of combat medical techs and some general duties people as well.

"The guys seem to be enjoying it a lot.

"It’s always good to get out and do something different and contribute to the community.”