Covid absences amongst East Midlands ambulance staff sees 60 military personnel drafted to help crews

The East Midlands Ambulance Service has secured 60 military personnel to support their staff amidst a rise in Covid-related absences.

By Tom Hardwick
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 3:17 pm
Covid absences have caused some disruption for non-emergency patients in recent weeks.
Covid absences have caused some disruption for non-emergency patients in recent weeks.

The military personnel will support EMAS with responding to non-emergency patients in the coming weeks, to help cope with continued demand on the service and the number of staff who are unwell or self-isolating due to Covid-19.

They will work alongside urgent care ambulance crews who attend non-emergency patients requiring inter-facility transfers or patients who have already been seen by a healthcare professional such as a GP, who has decided that they need to go to hospital.

The aim of this step is to reduce delays currently being experienced by non-emergency patients, enabling crews to focus on responding to emergency 999 calls, and helping to relieve some pressure in the wider NHS system.

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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 for Covid-19.

“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, and we look forward to making our new military colleagues feel welcome at EMAS.”

The military personnel will not be driving on blue lights and will wear their military uniform while supporting EMAS. They are due to begin training later this week and will complete a three-day EMAS familiarisation course led by the clinical education team.

They will carry out support tasks such as driving vehicles, safely moving and handling adult patients and essential equipment, and providing adult basic life support (including the use of automated external defibrillation).