Military reinforcements have been called in to help East Midlands Ambulance Service with non-emergency responses, due to continued demand and staff members self-isolating with COVID-19.
Arrangements have been made for 60 military personnel to support EMAS, working alongside the urgent care ambulance crews who attend non-emergency patients.
The army will be helping patients that require inter-facility transfers, or patients who have already been seen by a healthcare professional such as a GP, who has decided they need hospital.
It has been brought in in an attempt to reduce delays currently facing non-emergency patients, as well as enabling emergency crews to focus on high priority 999 calls, and generally relieving pressure on the NHS system.
As part of the plans, military colleagues will not be driving on blue lights and will wear their uniform, with 60 personnel beginning training this week, led by the EMAS Clinical Education team.
They will carry out support tasks such as safe moving and handling of adult patients and essential equipment, supporting the use of automated external defibrillation, and raising any safeguarding concerns.
Ben Holdaway, Director of Operations at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “As an ambulance service, the most important thing for us is that we are able to provide emergency care to our patients when they need it.
“Transmission rates of COVID-19 in the community have continued to rise, and we have seen an increased number of EMAS staff needing to self-isolate or be absent due to testing positive.
“Combined with the intense pressure the whole NHS system is under, and the high demand on our service, some of our less urgent and non-emergency patients are waiting longer for an ambulance than they should rightfully expect.
“Our new military colleagues will bolster the Urgent Care part of our service which attends non-emergency patients.
“This in turn will ensure our emergency ambulance crews can focus on attending the life-threatening and serious emergencies in our communities.
“While the introduction of military support has always been part of NHS plans in case of increased pressure, we are taking this proactive step now to safeguard the provision of a safe 999 service for our patients in the coming weeks.
“We look forward to making our new military colleagues feel welcome at EMAS.”