A west Dorset paramedic is appealing to the Government to help get him, and around 500 other healthcare workers, back to the UK to help with the coronavirus crisis.

Ned Starling, from Beaminster, and his girlfriend, who is a nurse at Dorset County Hospital, set off to travel Australia for a year but are desperately trying to come home and work to help the NHS.

He said: “There are really no flights operating back to the UK from places like Australia or New Zealand and that’s because of countries used for transit - where the planes stop and continue - have all closed their borders to people stopping through.

“There are about 500 NHS workers that are keen to come back to work in the UK and they are a combination of doctors, nurses and paramedics, and they are all currently stuck in Sydney, Brisbane and Queensland and in the same position as myself.

“I’m a paramedic and my girlfriend who is with me out here is a nurse and we want to get back to help in the UK but at the moment there seems no way of doing so.”

Ned said he had been in contact with local MPs and wants to create awareness in the hope that the Government will organise some repatriation.

He added: “I’m relatively lucky in that I’ve got somewhere to live, I spent my day at the airport yesterday and obviously now restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs have all closed down, the hostels are closing. I was met by a sea of backpackers [at the airport] from the UK all thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’. They have got no work, they’ve got no place to live and they have been living pay check to pay check and now they can’t get back, they’re stuck here.

“We are in a situation where we need some help.

“There are at the very least 500 of us that are willing to come back and work straight away. I feel it would be in the country’s best interest to try and get us home, and other than that we want to be home with our families.”