Armed forces called in to support ambulance service affected by pandemic in Greater Manchester

The Greater Manchester Ambulance Service is asking the Armed Forces for help in addressing personnel shortages in Greater Manchester and the North West.

The Northwest Ambulance Service (NWAS) says it faces “high” staff absences due to the Omicron variant outbreak – with a quarter of its workforce affected.

The region will receive a portion of the 150 military personnel – who will be deployed to join NWAS clinicians in the Northwest.

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They will be split between Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Merseyside and Lancashire and will drive ambulances.

Last year, 120 soldiers were deployed to the NWAS to help manage patients amid increased demand and staff absences during the Covid crisis.



Military personnel demonstrated compartments as an ambulance during vehicle familiarization as they participate in military ambulance driver induction training.

In a statement, the NWAS said: “Following a successful partnership last year, military personnel are to join clinicians from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to support the response to some elective patients in the area. Northwest region and deal with current issues. challenge of staff absences related to COVID-19.

“About 150 staff will join NWAS clinicians on the road, allowing us to more effectively use our emergency resources and support the larger NHS system.

“They will be available to meet non-urgent patients who often have longer waits when the department is busy.”

The 150 will begin training Jan. 11 and are expected to continue working with NWAS for several weeks.



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Operations director Ged Blezard said: ‘It’s no secret that the ambulance service, as well as the NHS as a whole, have been under extreme pressure for several months.

“Now we are also experiencing a high number of staff absences due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 and isolation, with around 25% of the workforce currently affected.

“As part of our resilience planning, we can ask for military support and feel that the time is right to put the arrangements in place.


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“We worked alongside the military last February and March, and this allows us to have more of our vehicles on the road, giving people the treatment they need sooner. This frees up emergency ambulances to deal with urgent life-threatening cases. “

Military personnel will receive NWAS training in driving ambulances, manual handling, familiarization with kits and basic care, similar to the standards of the patient transport personnel of the Trust who also supported the service of emergency throughout the pandemic.

It follows a very successful partnership last winter, when fellow military personnel were deployed in more than 4,600 non-life threatening incidents, including helping transport patients between approximately 1 healthcare sites. 700 times. Feedback from those who have worked with military personnel has been overwhelmingly positive.

Ged added, “I would like to thank our team of NWAS staff and volunteers for their continued dedication over the past two years. They have worked incredibly hard to provide the best possible service to our patients. This timely intervention to increase our resources means we can continue to do so while providing additional support to our staff and patients during another difficult time.

As always, we’re here for you in an emergency, and you can help us by using 111 online if you need urgent care advice and by dialing 999 only in a life-threatening situation. “

In a statement, NWAS said, “Last month an improved system was introduced to triage more than 999 patients over the phone. During the first weeks, thousands more people were taken care of by specialist practitioners within our clinical center, allowing them to receive more appropriate and timely information. care that does not require an ambulance.