Any DMS personnel usually assigned to Argus would be far better used being reassigned to support NHS hospitals. /quote]
Personally, I would say that having some specialist facilities available for servicemen and women (who will, of course, be asked to do the worst jobs), would be very good for the morale of those involved. Increasing the operation tempo will result in more injuries, and I feel that it is appropriate to have priority facilities for service (and possibly civilian emergency) personnel.
RichardIC wrote:If they are not normally fully staffed they will not bring extra capacity. Any clinical staff used to deliver services onboard will need to be diverted from elsewhere.
In the case of the US, the USN/USNS have their own medical corps, who will be mobilised to to support the two hospital ships and provide assistance to the civilian authorities - this is extra capacity that would not normally be available
In the case of the UK, you are making the major assumption that, if built, we would not make provision for staffing at least one of the ships at a time (presumably normally paid for out of the Aid budget, rather than the NHS). Since in normal use, the ship is likely to be on the other side of the world, it is clear that the staff will not normally be available to the NHS - moving the ship back to the UK will make the staff available, along with all the beds and facilities it carries at very short notice. If only one ship is in use at a time, the second ship could be staffed with recently retired medical staff (who are currently being asked to return to work) to provide additional bed capacity, to alleviate overcrowding. It's only if that is overwhelmed that we would then need to move to building temporary or field hospitals (primarily to handle the sick (up to, needing oxygen supplementation, but not ventilation), but not serious (ventilation)/ critical(multiple organ failure) cases, while the permanent hospitals gradually transform more and more beds into high-dependency beds).
Mercy and Comfort each have 500 beds (max. 1000) of which 50 are high dependency - I would assume that we would be aiming for smaller vessels, but even so, the first phase of the Government's medical plan is to stand up another 50 high-dependency beds, Phase 2 is 500 and Phase 3 is 5000, so Phase 1 could be covered at very short notice.
If the infection peak is managed correctly, then they may be all that is needed to avoid the neccessity of building tent and portacabin "hospitals", even if the Government appears to be planning for Phase 3 plus, by asking for another 20,000 ventilators to be manufactured)
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.