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7 May 2020

The Project Wingman team at Frimley ParkHospital staff on the front line of the NHS fight against coronavirus are being helped to unwind thanks to some first class support from airline crews.

Healthcare workers and support staff at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust are being treated to a ‘first class lounge’ experience by cabin crew and pilots who have been furloughed or made redundant during the global health pandemic.

The crews, working as part of a national programme called Project Wingman, are visiting hospitals across the country.

And this week they set up lounges at Frimley Health’s two general hospitals – Wexham Park in Slough, Berkshire, and Frimley Park near Camberley, Surrey.

Open seven days a week, they are environments where hospital staff can unwind and de-stress before, during or after shifts by chatting to crewmembers or musing over a glossy magazine while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

Captain Stephanie Bloxidge, Project Wingman team leader at Frimley Park Hospital, said: “There are a lot of furloughed airline staff at the moment, so we thought ‘Why not create a nice space for the NHS staff during this time?’

“It’s a nice escape for them. They can be looked after and it’s a rare opportunity to be served a cup of tea by a pilot or cabin crew and not talk about Covid for 10 minutes while they have a break.”

Janet King, director of human resources and corporate services, at Frimley Health, said: “We are extremely grateful to Project Wingman for providing these relaxing spaces in our hospitals for our staff. The buzz that they have created has been absolutely incredible.”

“These spaces complement the additional work that we our doing as a Trust to look after our staff during these challenging times. This includes providing a 24/7 helpline that staff can call for psychological, wellbeing or pastoral support, and a dedicated staff wellbeing team.”

Frimley Health has also produced guidance for managers about how they can support the psychological wellbeing of staff and provides links to a range of appropriate external organisations and resources, including wellbeing apps.