Covid: Welsh Ambulance Service bids for military help amid 'significant pressures'

Credit: PA

The Welsh Ambulance Service hopes to call in help from the army as it deals with "significant and sustained pressures".

Rising coronavirus cases, coupled with extra demand from seasonal flu on top of the usual pressures during colder months signals a "tough" winter ahead, according to an ambulance service boss.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS), said: "Covid-19 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."The Trust is starting to return to some of the arrangements we had in place at the height of the pandemic to better manage the increase in Covid-19 related activity that we’re feeling the impact of once again."

Military personnel from 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh take part in ambulance training (pictured in April 2020) Credit: PA

WAS hopes to secure support from other agencies, including the military, who have been helping the service with logistical planning in the past week.Mr Killens said: "This will enable us to get a head start on what we foresee will be a tough winter, especially when you couple Covid-19 demand with seasonal flu and our usual winter pressures, which staff and volunteers across Wales are already starting to feel the pinch of in September.

"If the situation begins to improve, we can stand down some of these additional actions, but this is about putting ourselves in the best possible position for winter."

Pressure is rising on the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Welsh Conservatives say the ambulance service asking for army help signals that circumstances have "moved well beyond normal levels of difficulty."

Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: "I hope getting this help will give people piece of mind.

"I hope (Eluned Morgan, Health Minister) will do everything she can to facilitate the ambulance service's request so the British Army can seamlessly start in their assistance."

A debate will take place in the Senedd on Wednesday to discuss the troubles facing the ambulance service and a plan to alleviate pressure on paramedics.