The Welsh Ambulance Service has confirmed it is looking to secure support from the military amid rising demand for its services.

The service has come under increased pressure recently, due to rising cases of Covid and increased demand.

The National has reported a number of incidents of people enduring long waits for ambulances, while pictures and videos have emerged daily of ambulances queued up outside A&E departments.

The ambulance service has already enlisted the support of the military and other partners, while the military has also been active in the vaccine programme.

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, told The National: “Covid-19 has presented a challenge like no other, but the last couple of months in particular have meant significant and sustained pressures on our ambulance service.

“The Trust is starting to return to some of the arrangements we had in place at the height of the pandemic to better manage the increase in Covid-19 related activity that we’re feeling the impact of once again.

“As part of this, we’re looking to secure support from other agencies as we have done in the past, including the military, and work has been underway for several weeks to facilitate this, including support with logistical planning in the past week from military colleagues themselves.

“This will enable us to get a head start on what we foresee will be a tough winter, especially when you couple Covid-19 demand with seasonal flu and our usual winter pressures, which staff and volunteers across Wales are already starting to feel the pinch of in September.

“If the situation begins to improve, we can stand down some of these additional actions, but this is about putting ourselves in the best possible position for winter.”

The update comes after the UK Government’s Welsh secretary, Simon Hart, wrote to Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan stating “Ministry of Defence support is available through the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities process”.

In the first six months of 2021, there were 47,871 lost hours caused by delays in moving people from ambulances into hospitals.

In July, 77 per cent of amber calls were not reached within half an hour and just over half of red calls got to their patients within the eight-minute target.

Earlier today, Welsh Conservative MS for Montgomeryshire, Russel George, said: “I urge Wales’ health minister to make full use of British servicemen and women to ensure that our beleaguered ambulance staff get the assistance they need in addressing the huge levels of demand that has emerged.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “The ambulance service is facing increased pressure caused by the pandemic and as we enter what will be a difficult winter period.

“The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is in close contact with military colleagues and is developing an option for military support alongside other options to increase capacity, such as working with the fire and rescue services and additional immediate recruitment.

“We would ask people to consider carefully how to get the care they need. The NHS 111 Wales website is the quickest way to access healthcare advice if you are unwell, and it includes a symptom checker, information about local healthcare services such as pharmacies, and self-care advice.”

The British Army is already assisting ambulance services in some areas of England while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested 100 British armed forces personnel to assist in Covid testing units across central Scotland.

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