Unions raises concerns as military staff fill in for ambulance drivers in Cambridgeshire

A union has raised concerns after it was revealed military staff have filled in for ambulance drivers across Cambridgeshire.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 11:25 am

The East of England Ambulance Service have used ‘a small number of military personnel’ on non emergency calls over the past week. The service runs ambulances in Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

In total 23 military drivers have been used by the trust since Friday, August 13 - but they have not been used on 999 calls.

However, the move has been slammed by union UNISON, who labelled the move as ‘a crude sticking plaster.’

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Military drivers have been used by the ambulance service

NISON Eastern regional secretary Tim Roberts said: “The East of England Ambulance Service was underfunded and overstretched even before the pandemic. With the huge extra pressures from Covid and its knock-on effect on staffing, it’s little wonder the trust has had to turn to the military for help.

“But drafting in the army to replace highly trained ambulance staff is a crude sticking plaster to patch up much bigger problems. Adequate long-term government funding and measures to retain ambulance staff, including better pay, adequate breaks and finishing on time, are urgently needed rather than a succession of quick fixes.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We are using tried and tested methods to help alleviate pressures on services, which has recently included the addition of a small number of military personnel who are supporting our non-emergency patient services.

“If you are concerned about your health but it is not an emergency, please use 111 online in the first instance and you will be directed to the best service to meet your needs.” An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said:

“We are using tried and tested methods to help alleviate pressures on services, which has recently included the addition of a small number of military personnel who are supporting our non-emergency patient services.

“If you are concerned about your health but it is not an emergency, please use 111 online in the first instance and you will be directed to the best service to meet your needs.”