Armed forces deployed to support Welsh Ambulance Service under growing pressure

8 October 2021, 01:27

The military have been called in to help the ambulance service.
The military have been called in to help the ambulance service. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

More than 100 military personnel have been drafted in to help the Welsh Ambulance Service deal with growing pressure.

Some 110 staff will be working as non-emergency drivers from 14 October until the end of November, the Ministry of Defence said.

It is the third time since the beginning of the pandemic that military personnel have supported the Welsh Ambulance Service.

However, they will not operate under blue light conditions, instead attending lower priority calls to allow ambulance staff to deal with life-threatening emergencies.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "I am proud of the tireless work of all our service personnel during this pandemic.

"They continue to provide important support, working alongside our dedicated emergency services across the UK.

"The deployment of 110 personnel to support the ambulance service will ensure Welsh Ambulance Service Trust can continue to deliver their life-saving services."

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Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart praised the military for their support during the difficult time.

"Once again the UK's armed forces are playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 by supporting the critical work of the Welsh Ambulance Service. I am hugely grateful for their commitment and expertise," he said.

"I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who have worked incredibly hard to ensure our public services deliver for the people of Wales throughout the pandemic."

Chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, Jason Killens, said: "We're proud and grateful to be working alongside the military once again, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

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"The pandemic has presented a challenge like no other, but the last couple of months in particular have meant significant and sustained pressures on our ambulance service, including high levels of demand and an increase in Covid-19 related activity.

"Winter is our busiest time and having military colleagues on board once more will bolster our capacity, and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales."

In September, the Welsh Government rejected calls from the Conservatives to declare an emergency in the ambulance service due to increasing demand and rising waiting times.

However, a report revealed that ambulance crews are facing long delays stuck outside hospitals waiting for patients to be admitted.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales said crews had to wait over an hour to transfer a patient on 32,699 occasions - with around half of the patients being aged over 65.