Military drafted in to help North West Ambulance Service cope with COVID staff shortages
NWAS says around 25% of its workforce either has COVID-19 or is in self-isolation.
Around 150 military personnel have been drafted in to support the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) cope with rising staff shortages due to COVID.
The NWAS says the the military will be available to respond to patients whose need is not urgent, and who often have longer waits when the service is busy, to allow it to “make more efficient use” of its emergency resources, while helping out the wider NHS system.
The cohort of personnel will begin training on the 11 January, and will continue to work with the NWAS for a number of weeks.
The military personnel will receive NWAS training in driving ambulances, manual handling, kit familiarisation, and basic life support – which the Service says is similar to the standards of the trust’s patient transport staff, who have also been supporting the emergency service throughout the pandemic.
This new draft follows what the NWAS says was a “very successful partnership” last winter, when the military was deployed to more than 4,600 non-life-threatening 999 incidents, including assisting with transportation of patients between healthcare sites on a predicted 1,700 occasions.
Feedback from those who worked with the military personnel was overwhelmingly positive, the NWAS revealed.
“It’s no secret that the ambulance service, along with the NHS as a whole, has been under extreme pressure for several months,” said Ged Blezard – Director of Operations at the NWAS.
“Now we are also experiencing high numbers of staff absences due to confirmed COVID-19 cases and isolation, with around 25% of the workforce currently affected [and so] as part of our resilience planning, we can make a request to the military for support and feel now is the right time to put the arrangements in place.
“We worked alongside the military last February and March, and it allows us to have more of our vehicles on the road, getting people the treatment they need sooner.
“This frees up emergency ambulances to attend to urgent, life-threatening cases.”
Ged added that taking this “timely intervention” to increase its resources now means the NWAS can carry on doing saving lives, while still providing extra support for its staff and patients during another “challenging period”.
Featured Image – North West Ambulance Service