As concerns rise over the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK Ministry of Defence has announced it will increase its response to provide necessary extra resources to assist the public services. The MOD will work alongside the UK Government in a bid to help tackle the virus, with heightened MOD presence in place to relieve pressure on the NHS and ensure the science field has the resources it requires for extensive testing.
Defence Contracts Online is the official defence contracts portal for the Ministry of Defence – here DCO outlines the Department’s Coronavirus response.
The MOD and the COVID Support Force
The Ministry of Defence has stated an additional 10,000 military personnel will join the COVID Support Force – on top of the 10,000 that are already being held on high readiness. The Support Force will consist of 20,000 specialist servicemen and women who are trained to assist public services, local authorities and citizens.
Other steps in the MOD’s Coronavirus response include:
- The training of 150 military personnel to drive oxygen tankers to support the NHS if required. Training for this will begin imminently.
- Reservists have been called upon should they be required to join the response effort. This measure has been put in place to increase military numbers.
- Supporting Public Health England’s efforts to understand the virus and tackle its spread by using scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to conduct testing.
These are by no means the first actions the Ministry of Defence has taken since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak. The military has already assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan, and has been instrumental in providing public health services, local authorities and emergency services with contingency planning and crisis management assistance.
Not only is the military designed to respond to challenging times such as these, the MOD has implemented well-rehearsed mechanisms to ensure its actions are effective, efficient and work to protect the lives of UK citizens. This was demonstrated recently, when the Armed Forces were called upon to assist citizens in the north of England after winter storms caused severe flood damage.
The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, echoed this sentiment in his reassuring statement:
“The men and women of our Armed Forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19. The unique flexibility and dedication of the Services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.”
The MOD is supporting NHS supplies
To further assist the NHS, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will provide as many ventilators to the health service as possible, after concerns over the resources available to the NHS mounted. Although this is reportedly only a small fraction of the number of ventilators believed ultimately to be needed nationally, it demonstrates the extent to which all areas of defence are engaged with government departments as they work together to contain and manage the pandemic. The MOD will continue to advise the devolved administrations as well as local authorities on how the Department can best support them over the coming weeks and months.
It is now widely understood that it will require a national effort to tackle the virus and support ventilator production – crucial equipment for patients who are unable to breathe on their own. The Government has therefore made an official call for organisations who can help in the production and supply of ventilators, in order to achieve its objective of producing 20,000 additional machines as quickly as possible.
This is an opportunity for new and existing defence suppliers who work across a range of specialisms to play their part in the Coronavirus response. The work of suppliers will not only give the NHS increased patient capacity in hospitals, but will also potentially save thousands of lives. As we navigate our way as a nation through these challenging times, the role of defence procurement has never been more important.
How your organisation can help
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