NEARLY 200 members of the armed forces are to help out NHS ambulance services dealing with coronavirus.
Personnel from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF will be sent to work at five ambulance trusts.
Eighty will be working for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, driving emergency vehicles and helping staff a response centre for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Sussex.
In London, 21 medical personnel will form ten critical care transfer teams to move patients between intensive care units. Army engineers are also helping maintain suction units in ambulances.
In Wales, 60 soldiers have had two days of training, ready to assist paramedics with non-clinical tasks. Some 37 military personnel will aid the East of England Ambulance Service with tasks including driving and logistics.
The RAF is also helping the Scottish Ambulance Service with transport.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘Across the United Kingdom, soldiers, sailors, airmen and women have got the backs of our NHS colleagues as they confront coronavirus.’
■ FIRE crews must be tested for coronavirus, a union has urged. Staff are on a ‘knife edge’ as 3,000, or more than five per cent, are self-isolating, the Fire Brigades Union warned, adding: ‘The government is playing with fire by not testing firefighters and control room staff.’ No test scheme is planned for England, unlike the rest of the UK, it said.