Welsh Ambulance Service seeking support from the military as pressure increases
The Welsh Ambulance Service has asked for support from the military as it faces increasing pressure from Covid cases.
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 increased demand from the last 18 months.
The Scottish Government has already requested support from the military to help tackle ambulance waiting times in Scotland.
Last week Mark Drakeford 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.
More than 200 British Army soldiers have already assisted the Welsh Ambulance Service during the pandemic by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.
Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave.
The military also assisted with the vaccine rollout at the Mass Vaccination Centre in Deeside.
As reported by South Wales Argus, Jason Killens, Welsh Ambulance Service chief executive said: “Covid-19 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.
“The trust is starting to return to some of the arrangements we have had in place at the height of the pandemic to better manage the increase in Covid-19 related activity that we’re feeling the impact of once again.
“As part of this, we’re looking to secure support from other agencies as we have done in the past, including the military, and work has been underway for several weeks to facilitate this, including support with logistical planning in the past week from military colleagues themselves.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The ambulance service is facing increased pressure caused by the pandemic and as we enter what will be a difficult winter period.”
“The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is in close contact with military colleagues and is developing an option for military support alongside other options to increase capacity, such as working with the fire and rescue services and additional immediate recruitment.”
“We would ask people to consider carefully how to get the care they need. The NHS 111 Wales website is the quickest way to access healthcare advice if you are unwell, and it includes a symptom checker, information about local healthcare services such as pharmacies, and self-care advice.”
“This will enable us to get a head start on what we foresee will be a tough winter, especially when you couple Covid-19 demand with seasonal flu and our usual winter pressures, which staff and volunteers across Wales are already starting to feel the pinch of in September.
“If the situation begins to improve, we can stand down some of these additional actions, but this is about putting ourselves in the best possible position for winter.”
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