Military called in to transport hospital staff over shift change

1 March 2018, 20:42 | Updated: 1 March 2018, 20:45

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Troops have been called in to transport hundreds of hospital staff through extreme weather conditions.

Soldiers from 3 Rifles and 2 Scots, based in Dreghorn Barracks and Penicuik, were deployed at 6pm on Thursday.

They were to support the movement of about 200 critical care workers over their shift change periods at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Western General.

It comes while an amber warning for snow covers much of Scotland, with the weather severely affecting NHS services.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Our armed forces stand ready to help as Britain is hit by severe weather.

"Our service personnel are showing great dedication and a spirited sense of duty as they support local authorities and keep people safe."

As the weather warnings continue, NHS Scotland has had difficulty transporting staff and patients with life-threatening conditions to and from hospitals.

The troops will use defence and commercial four-wheel drive vehicles to move the workers.

Their efforts are being helped by two Police Scotland vehicles and eight from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

It comes after a special request was made by NHS Lothian to the Scottish Government.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "Our emergency services across Scotland are doing a fantastic job during very difficult circumstances to keep people safe through the challenging and unprecedented weather conditions we've experienced this week.

"The Scottish Government's Resilience Coordination Centre is continuing to work with local authorities and public services across Scotland and ensure they have the support they need and we have acted quickly on a specific request from NHS Lothian.

"My priority is the safety of staff and patients and the measures we have put in place will ensure these are protected during challenging circumstances."