Welsh Ambulance Service requests military support as demand and pressures increase
The Welsh Ambulance Service has requested support from the military in a bid to ease some of the pressures being faced ahead of what is expected to be a difficult winter.
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.
Today Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, confirmed that the trust is “starting to return to some of the arrangements” it had with the military at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
Locally the military were drafted in as part of the response locally to an outbreak of cases at Rowan Foods on the Wrexham Industrial Estate and a pop-up testing facility held in Hightown and Caia Park last summer.
Speaking today Mr Killens 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 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.
“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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