Welsh Ambulance Service calls on armed forces again to help as coronavirus cases continue to rise

It comes after the service warned it is dealing with double the amount of calls predicted Credit: PA

The Welsh Ambulance Service has called on the army to help as it deals with acute pressure on its service.

More than 90 soldiers will be drafted in from Wednesday to help drive their emergency vehicles as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to take hold on the NHS.

Among the soldiers helping to drive emergency vehicles will be those from 9 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps.

It comes after the service warned it is dealing with double the amount of calls predicted and "sharply rising levels" of Covid-19 in the community.

Wales was put into lockdown on Sunday with its latest seven-day Covid-19 case rate now at 623 cases per 100,000 people and rising, putting increased strain on the country's health services.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS said, “The extreme pressure on our ambulance service in the last couple of weeks has been well documented, and it’s why we’ve taken the decision to re-enlist the military, who did a superb job of assisting us earlier in the year."

Soldiers previously answered the call to drive ambulances and accompany paramedics in Wales back in April ahead of the anticipated surge in demand on staff during the first wave of coronavirus.

Mr Killens added: “Winter is our busiest period, and with the second wave of a global pandemic also to contend with, this is about bolstering our capacity as far we can and putting us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.“We’re proud and grateful once again to be working alongside the military in the collective effort against Covid-19, and I know colleagues will extend the same warm welcome as they did the first time around.”

Soldiers were drafted in in April to drive ambulances and accompany paramedics

Speaking at a coronavirus press briefing on Monday, the First Minister said he was grateful for all the help the armed forces has provided during the pandemic and that the Welsh Government has called on them again for help.

First Minister Mark Drakeford MS said: "In recent weeks we've had to draw back again on help from the armed forces and I was involved in signing off things asking for further help, even over this weekend, so we've had all the help we could have asked for and the message to us always is, if more help is needed, we should ask, and if that help is available, I'm sure we will get it."

More than 20,000 military personnel have been supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘COVID Support Force’.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “With coronavirus case rates at high levels in many areas of Wales, it’s welcome and reassuring that our Armed Forces will help our ambulance and NHS services during what is set to be a very busy winter period."