Army drafted in to help SCAS in face of growing pressure from Omicron variant
Army personnel have been drafted in to help at South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) as the NHS continues to be hit by staff absences due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thirty-two military co-responders have been deployed to provide additional capacity to the service and will work alongside paramedics until the end of March.
SCAS responds to emergencies across Berkshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The men and women of our armed forces are once again stepping up to support their dedicated colleagues in the NHS, as they work hand-in-hand to protect the nation from Covid-19.
“They have shown their worth time and again throughout this pandemic, whether driving ambulances, administering vaccines or supporting patients in hospital and they should be proud of their contribution to this truly national effort.”
Elsewhere in the country, forty teams of five – each comprising a medic and four general duties personnel – will be distributed, targeting areas where help is most needed.
Several hospital trusts have declared critical incidents amid staff shortages and an influx of patients – but the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is not currently one of them.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our brilliant armed forces have supported the country throughout the pandemic, bolstering the teams at testing sites, vaccination centres and hospitals.
“Once again they are stepping up to assist NHS workers who are working round the clock across the capital, helping the health service through this difficult winter period where the need is greatest.
“The most important thing you can do is get boosted now to protect your loved ones and communities from Covid-19.”
The military support is in addition to more than 1,000 armed forces personnel who are already deployed across the UK to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.