Gateshead staff are flying high with first class treatment

Hardworking NHS staff in Gateshead will be able to relax and enjoy a first class airport lounge experience, courtesy of some kind volunteers from the airline industry.

Project Wingman is now in full flight at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, where grounded flight deck and cabin crew will volunteer their time in a dedicated lounge area and be on hand to support the wellbeing of staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The airline crew will serve refreshments in full uniform, while giving staff the opportunity to unwind and talk to someone who has unique skills in decompression techniques, learned from their training for managing stressful and pressurised situations.

Yvonne Ormston, chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re beyond grateful for this lovely gesture from our fellow uniformed professionals in the airline industry. We can’t thank them enough for volunteering to support our staff in this way.

“One of our top priorities as a Trust is to support the health and wellbeing of our staff during an anxious and unsettling time. This initiative will complement our other work perfectly and we would encourage all staff to take a break in the lounge whenever they need to.”

Project Wingman is the result of a call to arms by Captain Dave Fielding of British Airways and Captain Emma Henderson of EasyJet, after Consultant Clinical Psychologist Rob Bor and his team came up with the idea.

Professor Rob Bor, Consultant Clinical psychologist, said: “Many airline crews have been grounded by the global effects of Covid-19 and we recognised that this represents a rich resource of a uniformed and disciplined workforce, used to problem-solving and providing care.”