MUSICIANS from the Royal Marines Band have been providing support on hospital wards to free up medics caring for Covid-19 patients.

A group of 42 members of the service band - based at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hampshire, and Portsmouth Naval Base - have been aiding frontline NHS staff at hospitals in Bournemouth, Dorset and Bath, Somerset, as well as the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Exeter.

The band members are trained to carry stretchers, drive ambulances and assist the military’s full-time medics during times of conflict.

And they are currently assisting the military’s support to the government’s response to the pandemic in the South West, led by 3 Commando Brigade of the Royal Marines, with the aim of freeing up NHS staff for clinical duties.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Trev Naughton said: “Despite the unfamiliar roles that we have been tasked to support, the team have thrown themselves at every task and supported our brave NHS staff in every way they can.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the selfless attitude of our people, taking on a huge variety of roles, which has freed up the NHS staff to concentrate on their primary clinical roles.

“This has not only improved the care that’s given to the patients but also boosted the morale of our NHS staff.”

As well as helping to support the medical needs of patients, the musicians have been boosting morale by providing musical performances on non-Covid wards.

Naughton added: “Music delivers in a way only music can, lifting the spirits of patients and staff alike.

“We are using our skills to provide some positive therapy amidst some very difficult times - and its impact has been immense.”

Somerset County Gazette:

KEYBOARD: One of the musicians on a hospital ward (pic: PA)

Chantal Baker, assistant director of nursing at the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter, said: “I know that I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues when I say that the arrival of the military personnel has been timely and simply wonderful.

“They have lifted spirits in our team, brought another dynamic to the hospitals, and, most of all, have an incredibly positive, can-do attitude.

“We cannot thank them enough.

“When they’re not supporting clinical duties or taking on family liaison roles, they can be found with our patients - reading to them, playing games with them, or just simply chatting away together.

“It is incredibly touching to see.

“Their beautiful music has filled our corridors, pouring out from the wards for the patients.”