Drakeford: “Lines of communication are always open” if military needed to help reduce demand on ambulance service
The first minister has said the “lines of communication are always open” if Wales needs to enlist the help of the military to help reduce demand on the ambulance service.
The trust, along with the wider-NHS, is experiencing significant demand as the easing of coronavirus restrictions coincides with an increase in cases and more people seeking emergency care.
These pressures on the health service are expected to increase over the autumn winter as it tries to deal with an increasing backlog of operations whilst undertaking the rollout of coronavirus booster jabs and flu vaccines.
A similar demand is being experienced across the UK as the NHS deals with an increased demand from the last 18 months.
Overnight it was reported that the Scottish Government had requested support from the military to help tackle ambulance waiting times in Scotland.
At today’s Welsh Government coronavirus press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked whether he will asking the army to help support the Welsh Ambulance Service.
He was also asked by BBC Wales whether he accepts that “more elective treatments will be postponed and that record waiting times we hear every month are going to get longer as the autumn and winter kicks in.”
The military have already offered support to Wales throughout the pandemic, including with the vaccine rollout and last summer in Wrexham during a covid-19 pop-up testing centre introduced to reduce the spread of the virus.
Mr Drakeford said “if we need to ask for further help from them, then the path to do that is well understood.”
He added: “It’s absolutely true that the health service is under huge current pressure, it’s under pressure from all sorts of reasons and sources.
“Coronavirus with numbers that you saw earlier, with running the vaccination campaigns, with dealing with the flu program that we’ll be asking them to carry out over the autumn, a very high number of people who are presenting as emergency cases direct to hospital.
“As I said earlier, and last week, there are things we can all do ourselves to think about that and to try to help and of course, by the enormous effort to restore, the non coronavirus treatments that were affected earlier in the pandemic.
“We’ve had very regular and very significant help from the armed forces during the pandemic and if we need to ask for further help from them, then the path to do that is well understood. Those lines of communication are always open.
“In some parts of Wales health boards have already had to pull back from some planned surgery in order to balance all the other things they’re being asked to do.
“But that is a temporary measure when they do so and they are anxious always to get back to trying to provide those more regular and routine treatments as soon as conditions allow.
“It’s going to be a difficult and continuing balancing act right through the winter.”
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