SENIOR opposition figures have called on the Welsh Government to declare the current situation with the Welsh Ambulance Service “an emergency”, following news that the army has been drafted in to help out.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Army will be stepping in to help paramedics by driving ambulances and offering support services.

It comes after the NHS has come under an increasing amount of strain in recent weeks – particularly in terms of intensive care admissions.

And, with covid cases continuing to rise again, it is hoped that military intervention will be able to speed up the time that patients are spent waiting for ambulances.

The Conservative party had previously called on the government to accept the offer of military assistance, and have now said that the current ambulance service situation should be declared an emergency.

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Continuing, they claim that the Welsh Government should bring forward a plan to improve response times nationwide – including Newport and Gwent.

In doing so, they have called for an improved access to face-to-face primary care appointments, and an increase in hospital bed capacity.

Later today, shadow health minister Russell George MS will lead a debate in the Welsh Parliament, and it is expected that the pressures that the NHS in Wales are facing will be detailed.

Mr George, who is also MS for Montgomeryshire, said: “Paramedics work incredibly hard and deserve recognition of their dedication in such challenging circumstances. However, the level of mismanagement from the Welsh Government is exacerbating what was already a postcode lottery into the “wild west” where grabbing a cab or hitching a ride is a better option than taking a punt on an ambulance.

“There are serious long-standing issues in NHS Wales when it comes to staffing with 3,000 unfilled roles right now, but there are other issues such as the pent-up demand built up during lockdowns.

“We are having this debate and making our calls because facing these challenges head-on rather than continuing to deny them is the only way we can move to addressing them.

“From waiting hours in pain at home or stuck in the back of an ambulance waiting for A&E beds to come up, we will be highlighting the stories of constituents who have been badly let down and deserve to know how ministers plan to rectify the situation. Our calls do that and I hope the Welsh Government heeds them.”

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How did we get here?

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Army stepped in to assist the ambulance service in Wales with carrying out driving and supporting paramedics at jobs.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that similar steps are set to be taken with pressure on the service rising.

Welsh Ambulance Service chief executive Jason Killens said: “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 have 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.”