21 September 2021

Military help called in to assist Welsh Ambulance Service

21 September 2021

The Ministry of Defence is to be asked for military help to assist the Welsh Ambulance Service, the Welsh Government has said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government had received a formal request from the Welsh Ambulance Service for support.

This request has been endorsed and will now be passed onto the Ministry of Defence, the First Minister told Plenary.

In response, the Conservatives said it was an acknowledgement the Welsh Ambulance Service was “in crisis”.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Drakeford told Senedd members: “Through the whole of the pandemic, every time we have received a request of that sort from the health service, we have always endorsed it.

“We then have to send it on, because the decision rests with the Ministry of Defence as to whether or not to approve that application.

“Over the course of the pandemic, most applications have been approved, but not all. So, it’s not a rubber-stamping exercise.

“The Ministry of Defence look at it and they decide whether or not they are able to help.

“That will be the stage we will be at next, making sure that we make the best possible application to the Ministry of Defence and hoping that they will be able to offer us the help that they have offered us in very large measure during the course of the pandemic.”

Mr Drakeford was responding to a question from Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Conservative group in the Senedd.

Mr Davies said: “I am pleased, and I am sure people across Wales will be pleased, the First Minister and his colleagues have finally opened their eyes and realised that our ambulance service is in crisis and stretched ridiculously thin.

“Drafting in the Army will give our ambulance staff the help they need during these challenging times, but it is a shame this Labour-led Welsh Government didn’t get the ball rolling sooner.

“The Secretary of State for Wales wrote to the health minister more than a week ago offering the assistance of the Army, but ministers are only now springing into action.

“However, I am pleased that the wheels are now in motion, as I was starting to think that this Welsh Government was in denial about just how much pressure the ambulance service is under.”

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