A TEAM of soldiers have been called in to support paramedics in the East Midlands amid Covid staffing shortages.
Hospitals and ambulance teams have been crippled by record-high infection rates that have forced thousands off work to self-isolate.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) announced it would be joined by 60 military personnel for support
Members of the armed forces have been brought in to help ambulance crews and hospitals. Pictured: Personnel at the Royal Free, in Hampstead, January 11Credit: Eyevine
Although Omicron has driven a huge surge in cases, hugely positive studies show the variant causes a milder illness.
But the UK is not out of the woods yet. With staggeringly high case numbers comes huge gaps in the NHS workforce.
In latest developments, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) announced it would be joined by 60 military personnel for support.
The soldiers will help with responding to non-urgent patients in the coming weeks and helping with tasks such as basic care.
Ben Holdaway, EMAS director of operations, said it would ensure paramedics “can focus on attending the life-threatening and serious emergencies”.
“Transmission rates of [Covid] 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”, he said in a statement.
“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.”
The team is due to begin training later this week.
It comes after it was announced earlier this week that the military would be drawn on to help hospitals in London and the North West.
Some 200 personnel will be helping the capital, while 150 will support the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
It came after the latest NHS England figures revealed that staff absences in the North West had risen by 85 per cent in one week to 7,338 on January 2.
In London, absences were up four per cent week-on-week, to 4,765.
To help fill the gap there were around 1,800 military personnel committed to assist with 15 open Covid-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests, as of Friday.
In total, there are around 9,300 armed forces available on standby.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid praised the “brilliant Armed Forces” for bolstering the NHS in its hour of need.
At least 24 of 137 hospital trusts have declared critical incidents over the past couple of weeks, meaning they are fears of patient safety.
But in positive news, most regions are now seeing falls in the number of Covid patients coming into hospital each day.
Numbers are still climbing in the North East and Yorkshire, which is reflected in the number of inpatients, too.
There were almost 2,800 in hospitals in the region on January 11 – 71 per cent of its second wave peak of 3,900.
A similar picture is seen in the North West, however admissions appear to be steady.
London, south-east England and south-west England have all seen a drop or stabilising of Covid hospital inpatients in the last few days.
The number of patients in hospitals in the Midlands and East of England is still rising, but hospital admissions have shown early signs of decline.