Army is drafted in to get staff to snow bound Edinburgh hospitals

SOLDIERS have been drafted in to help take health staff to and from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Western General as the icy lockdown of the Capital continues.

Soldiers from 3 RIFLES and 2 SCOTS, based in Dreghorn Barracks and Penicuik, are using 4WD vehicles to move critical staff over their shift change periods whilst the impact of the weather remains.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our service personnel are showing great dedication and a spirited sense of duty as they support local authorities and keep people safe.”

Patient transfer will continue to be provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service, who have confirmed they have sufficient staffing levels.

Army personnel from 1 SCOTS were deployed to clear snow from roads around the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, in 2010

It came as widespread transport chaos and closed businesses is expected for a third day with wintry weather forecast into next week.

The Met Office extended its warnings until Monday - though downgraded the alert through amber to yellow, meaning snow showers and very low temperatures.

City leader Adam McVey said council teams were working round the clock: “We are making every effort to keep the city moving in spite of severe weather, though we have had to make some decisions to cease services for the safety of the public and our staff.”

All schools nurseries and early years centres across Edinburgh will remain closed today, the third successive day. Council-run adult education courses, drop-in events have also been cancelled - while doors are locked to all libraries and community centres.

Army personnel from 1 SCOTS were deployed to clear snow from roads around the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, in 2010

Care staff have endeavoured to visit frail, older or disabled people who rely on care provided in their homes, while hundreds of service users and their families have been contacted to ensure they have the support and food supplies needed.

A full gritting night shift covered the city’s priority routes, with 22 lorries and 11 mini-tractors treating more than 600km of roads, pavements and cycle paths.

Charity Bethany Christian Trust and others, including Streetwork, Edinburgh Access Practice and Shelter helped the homeless. As blizzard conditions hammered the Capital yesterday and roads became evermore treacherous, bus bosses took the unprecedented decision to scrap all services apart from the Airlink.

Trams ran till midnight but Edinburgh Airport closed at 6pm, posting online: “We ask that passengers DO NOT come to the airport.”

Trains in and out of the Capital were also hit - with operator Virgin advising against travel today.

Entertainment has also taken a wintery hit as visitors struggle to get to attractions.

Edinburgh Castle remains closed while the Carole Nash MCN Scottish Motorcycle Show has been rescheduled from this weekend to April 7-8 at the Royal Highland Centre.

Last night’s showing of the Allan Stewart Big, Big Variety Show at the King’s Theatre was cancelled with tickets refunded automatically - a decision on tonight’s show will be made at 1pm.

It was a similar story at the Lyceum where bosses pulled the plug on last night’s performance of The Belle’s Stratagem. [email protected]