Soldiers supporting ambulance service stood down despite pressure on NHS

Hundreds of military personnel were deployed to support the Scottish Ambulance Service in September.

Military assistance to Scottish Ambulance Service ends as Pauline Howie pays tribute to soldiers Supplied

Military support for Scottish ambulances has come to an end, after months of pressure on the service.

The Ministry of Defence deployed soldiers to assist the health service in September, following a request from the Scottish Government.

It came after the ambulance service felt severe pressure due to the pandemic with many drivers forced to self-isolate.

In September, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that asking for targeted military assistance was to help with “short-term pressure points”.

In response, the Ministry of Defence provided 114 soldiers to support ambulance drivers, while a further 111 personnel were drafted in to operate Mobile Testing Units.

But soldiers are being stood down while A&E targets are failed by record levels.

However, the Ambulance Service could gain some new recruits as soldiers are now considering a career change after the experience, such as Sergeant Nina Dainese.

She said: “I found it thoroughly fascinating, and I really enjoyed not only working with the ambulance crews but also interacting with the public.”

Ambulance Service chief executive Pauline Howie visited soldiers at Johnstone Ambulance Station in Renfrewshire on Tuesday, to thank them for their support.

She said: “I was delighted to visit the troops at Johnstone to personally thank them for their support and I would like to extend this thanks to all the military personnel who have been deployed with SAS over the last six months.

“To hear that some are now keen to join the Service is testament to our fantastic, dedicated staff who have been working tirelessly through the pandemic.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Ambulance Service is the heartbeat of our NHS and the assistance from our military personnel has proved invaluable over these challenging winter months.

“I would like to thank the army as a whole and those who were deployed.

“Their help ensured the service had the support it needed to perform a crucial role.”

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