15% of staff in Welsh Ambulance Service are in self-isolation as service prepares for more demand, chief executive says

15% of frontline Welsh Ambulance staff are self-isolating, the chief executive of the service has told ITV News.

Jason Killens said the number of emergency medical staff that are absent is around 350.

''We are seeing a number staff self-isolating at the moment,'' he said.

''It's right that they do that to protect themselves, their families and patients.''


Welsh Ambulance staff self-isolating.

The chief executive said the Welsh Ambulance service are working to increase capacity to deal with staff sickness and an increase in demand.

Mr Killens said they have seen more calls related to breathing difficulties pointing to an ''increased prevalence of the virus in the community.''

He said call handling services have been doubled, and the service are receiving support from other organisations.

''We've got support from St John's Ambulance and from the Fire and Rescue Services.

''We're in discussions with other organisations to ensure we've got sufficient capacity to respond to all the calls we get.''

Mr Killens asked the public to be honest about their symptoms when calling 999 Credit: PA

Mr Killens also renewed calls for the public to be honest about their symptoms after reports some people calling the emergency services are "withholding information" about their illness during the coronavirus outbreak because they are worried an ambulance will not be sent.

''The simple message to the community is to be honest with us when you ring 999.

''Tell us why you are calling and we'll decide what's appropriate to send to you based on the symptoms you're telling us about.''

Mr Killens said the Welsh Ambulance has received deliveries of more PPE Credit: PA

When asked if his teams have the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) needed to carry out their work safely, the chief executive said:

''We've had a number of deliveries in the last few weeks. This week we saw 3,000 sets of googles and thousands of masks delivered. The supply chain behind that is replenishing.''

The Senedd turned blue in support to NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak Credit: Lee Smith

Mr Killens praised the public for the support his staff have received since the coronavirus outbreak began.

''We've been receiving cards from children, chocolates. Messages and posters going up outside our stations.

''It's not just the ambulance service, everyone in the Welsh NHS is doing a fantastic job.

''The support we're receiving from the public is fantastic in what is really difficult and anxious time for them.''