AIRLINE staff have been supporting workers at Warrington Hospital throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Crew members who were furloughed or made redundant as a result of Covid-19 have volunteered to help the NHS as part of Project Wingman.

Offering a first class service to hard-working doctors and nurses during breaks and at the end of their shifts, the Wingman Foundation's lounge at Warrington Hospital is now celebrating its six-month anniversary.

Current and former flight deck and cabin crew have served up teas, coffees and light refreshments – as well as 'smiles and empathy' – during 23,000 visits from frontline staff since May.

Warrington Guardian:

And it is one of 10 across the country which will become a permanent Legacy Lounge – the only one in the north of England.

Warrington’s Project Wingman lead Captain Jonathan Simpson said: "Warrington Hospital has really embraced the concept of Project Wingman, and it is an honour to be able to continue this legacy – providing the hard-working NHS staff with a space to come and have a break away from the wards during their working day.

"The lounge has not only given so much support to the NHS staff, but also to the airline staff volunteering their time.

"It has enabled us to come together to support each other as well as the NHS staff during this difficult and unstable time for us all – it has provided us with a focus, and we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking to such a varied range of staff and learning about the NHS."

Refreshments have been provided by the Warrington and Halton Hospitals' Charity via donations from businesses and residents.

Eight Project Wingman volunteers have gone on to take on permanent roles within the trust, with airline staff having also shared their experience of safety drills in order to improve patient care.

Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Professor Simon Constable added: "We are delighted that the Wingman Foundation has chosen us to be one of 10 Legacy Lounges in the UK.

"They have become part of the WHH team, and it is lovely to be in the lounge and see the incredible team spirit and camaraderie shine through – they have been amazing for our staff, and it has provided a really different environment for them to relax while on a short break or at the end of a shift.

"As well as providing refreshments, the team has also listened and supported our staff – enabling them to talk about the situations they have experienced.

"I am also really pleased that we have been able to learn from experienced air crew with regards to air safety and where this has parallels with patient safety in hospitals.

“The ability to retain a permanent facility is thanks to the willingness of our amazing Wingman volunteers to continue to support us, despite their own very challenging situation, and our fantastic WHH Charity Community Hub – which is working tirelessly to keep the lounge stocked for staff to enjoy.”