MORE than 100 Armed Forces personnel will be joining the Welsh Ambulance Service next week to help with easing the pressures on the service.
110 members of the Armed Forces from the Army, Navy and RAF will begin working as non-emergency drivers from Thursday, October 14. It is expected that their work will last until the end of November.
They will attend lower priority calls to help free up the ambulance service for emergency calls where there is an immediate risk to life.
Three members of the Armed Forces will also be deployed to NHS Wales to help with planning.
Defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “I am proud of the tireless work of all of 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 WAST can continue to deliver their lifesaving services.”
Simon Hart, secretary of state for Wales, said: “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.
“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.”
Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, 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.
“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.”
The support from the UK Government is being provided through a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request.
It is the third time that the Armed Forces have stepped in to support the Welsh Ambulance Service during the Covid-19 pandemic. 68 were deployed in April 2020 and 120 in December, which included Defence medics.
The Armed Forces also supported the vaccine rollout in Wales and provided specialist planning advice, delivered PPE and supported the Merthyr Tydfil community testing programme.