Yorkshire Ambulance Service has temporarily suspended some of its non-emergency services, due to the pressures it is facing as a result of Covid-19 related staff absences during the Omicron wave.
But the Trust has provided reassurance, saying it continues to transport patients for life-saving treatment such as renal dialysis or chemotherapy, treatment for COVID-19, and for those being discharged or admitted to hospital or transferred between hospital sites.
It comes as the military has been drafted in to provide additional support. Forty military personnel will be supporting the service by assisting with transporting patients with less urgent needs, enabling the Trust to make more efficient use of its emergency resources.
They will work alongside Yorkshire Ambulance staff members to transfer patients between hospitals and assist with non-emergency patient transport service.
The trust follows neighbouring East Midlands Ambulance Service, which is also receiving support from troops amid staff sickness.
Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations, explained: "Like all other ambulance, health and community services across the country, we are experiencing operational pressures which are exacerbated by COVID-19 related absence.
"Our dedicated staff are doing their best to respond as quickly as possible to all 999 calls, but we acknowledge that some patients are having to wait longer for an ambulance response.
"As part of our resilience planning, we have always had the option of making a request to the military for help and we have now asked for that assistance.
"We will be able to use military personnel to work alongside our staff, enabling us to support patients and get people the treatment they need sooner.
"This, in turn, will free up our staff to attend to serious and life-threatening cases.
"Military staff will work alongside a YAS colleague and attend minor cases, hospital transfers and discharges only.
"They will receive YAS training in driving ambulances, manual handling, kit familiarisation and basic life support, similar to the standards of the Trust’s patient transport service staff who have also been supporting the emergency service throughout the pandemic.
"They will enable paramedics to accompany patients, whose condition is not deemed to be serious, in the back of vehicles while being driven to or from hospitals."
The military personnel will begin training on 18 January and will be working with patients within two weeks.