Ambulance service may call in military support to cope with winter pressure

The report found poor leadership had created a culture of 'bullying and abuse'.
The Trust says it may need to be backed up by the Army this winter

The region's ambulance trust is preparing to call in the military for support when winter pressure bites.

The East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) says it could also send an emergency plea to the fire service and use private ambulances for when demanded increases over the winter months.

In a report to councillors, they said: "EEAST, along with the rest of the NHS, are anticipating further activity this winter.

Soldiers could be called in to deal with the Winter pressure in the NHS Credit: PA Images

The plans include:

  • Putting in place contingency plans to call in military and fire service support with emergency and non-emergency services if required

  • Not sending ambulances to non-urgent patients and directing them to more appropriate services

  • Increasing overtime levels for existing staff

  • Recruiting extra staff to take 999 calls

  • Increasing use of private ambulances

The trust has already had to draw on army support last month, calling a small number of military drivers for our non-urgent patient transport services.

On Thursday, Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer at EEAST, told councillors on the Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee that this was the most sustained pressurised period he had experienced in his 23 years with the trust.

Mr Bailey said:

Mr Bailey stressed to the committee that Covid was not over and they needed to be clear about the impact on staff and patients, but also the indirect impact on staff's health and wellbeing.

The trust is one of eight trusts in the country still at its highest escalation levels, based on 999 calls and activity.