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As we all adapt to the rapidly unfolding COVID 19 pandemic and its profound effects on every aspect of life, it is timely to share an update on the activities of the Defence community to support the national effort to fight the pandemic.

Across Defence large numbers of military and military medical personnel are working exclusively on COVID 19. The NHS takes primacy and military personnel have been moved to wherever the NHS needs them most. While we will continue to have troops serving on Operations overseas , the majority of the Armed Forces are completely focussed on COVID 19. From the highest levels at the MoD liaising directly with central government across to military medical staff within the Department of Health up to 25,000 members of the Armed Forces are now committed to support Op RESCRIPT and BROADSHORE, the largest MACA- military aid to the civil authorities operation in peace time.

10 Military liaison teams have been embedded into each of the 7 English NHS Strategic Health Authorities and 3 devolved nations SHA. These teams principal roles are to help plan and triage requests for MACA. Military medical, engineering and logistics teams have supported the NHS establishing Nightingale at the ExCel Centre in London with 4000 beds and are working on similar Hospitals being built in Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate and Cardiff. 3 Field Hospitals, able to take up to 500 " step down" patients, have been offered to the NHS to allow the NHS to move patients out of acute Hospitals and thus concentrate on COVID 19 patients. 20 Pre hospital treatment teams are available to the NHS - these consist of a Medical Officer/ANP or paramedic leading a team of 5 military combat medics who it is anticipated will work along side NHS colleagues in ITUs. By 8 May, a further 45 teams will be available. Teams of Specialists are on standby to support British overseas territories including those in the Falkland Islands, Caribbean and Gibraltar.

In the wider military medical world teams that were previously concentrating on research into optimising physical performance are now analysing academic papers alongside NHS scientific staff to evaluate potential treatments, military Public health teams are working to analyse outbreaks in defined military communities, mental resilience training is being embedded into all military activity and all available military medical assets have been aligned to directly support the UK Government.

We are living in extraordinary times-none of us has ever experienced anything like this - and the Armed Forces Medical community is fully integrated providing decisive support to the national effort to combat COVID 19.

This is a message from:

Colonel Julian Woodhouse, Colonel Ian Gurney, Consultant Adviser General Practice- Army HQ Andover, Consultant Emergency Medicine- Plymouth, Associate Dean Army GP- Defence Medical Academy- Whittington, Defence Consultant Adviser EM- Birmingham, President Military Medicine Section- Royal Society of Medicine and Past President Military Medicine Section – Royal Society of Medicine.

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