97 military personnel called in to help ambulance services
- Credit: Simon Parker
The military are helping ambulance crews in the East of England restock and prepare for jobs amid staff shortages.
It’s understood that in total 97 military personnel have been deployed to services across England. It’s not clear how many of these personnel have been sent to our region.
Tom Abell, the new chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, told the BBC that military personnel were being used as "a stopgap measure" - freeing up staff for front-line ambulances.
It’s understood that the personnel have been assisting with logistical needs including restocking ambulances rather than performing medical duties.
One anonymous paramedic told the Today programme: “A lot of staff take time off because of burnout.
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“We are often back-to-back with our jobs, and often not getting a break until particularly late in our shifts, we often are stuck at hospitals because we can’t unload our patients and that will lead to late finishes as well because of the demand that we’re under."
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS organisations, said: “Ambulance trusts have been operating under incredible pressure in recent months due to national lockdowns, patients presenting with more severe symptoms, the growing mental health impact of the pandemic and very stretched primary and social care.
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“This has meant that at times, ambulance services have been overstretched, impacting on care for patients and the wellbeing of staff and volunteers. Severe workforce shortages have also been compounded by high rates of burnout, staff sickness and quarantine measures.
“It is clear that investment in the ambulance service is long overdue. Prior to the pandemic, the ambulance sector needed £250 million additional funding to deal with increasing demand and eliminate historic underfunding.
“We are urging that the Government use this autumn’s spending review to set out how it will respond to this challenge."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting ambulance crews who work tirelessly to respond to emergencies every day and there are hundreds of new ambulances on the roads across the country thanks to our investments."