Ambulance service 'doing everything it can' to protect people from coronavirus
The region’s ambulance service is “doing everything it can to protect its staff and the public” from coronavirus, and is striving to keep its 999 response up to standard, its CEO says.
NHS 111 call centres in the West Midlands are under “immense pressure”, and Anthony Marsh says they are doing “everything they can to further bolster staffing levels there”.
In a report for the board, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) chief executive Mr Marsh praised the workforce’s “immense efforts and continued flexibility” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. A daily strategic command team meeting, led by him, is taking place every evening during the crisis.
WMAS took over the 111 service in most parts of the region last year. Nationally, the non-emergency line received 120,000 more calls in the first week of March than it did in the same period last year, a rise of more than a third.
Mr Marsh writes: “It is essential that we continue to do everything we can to protect our staff and the public in a way that we have never ever done before.
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“As an ambulance service, I am clear that our number one priority is to ensure we continue to answer 999 calls in our two control rooms and respond to patients in their hour of need across the region.
“NHS 111 is under immense pressure and we are doing everything we can to further bolster staffing levels there.
“I have some of the most hard-working, talented and experienced ambulance staff working for me and I would like to thank you all, whatever your grade, for your immense efforts and continued flexibility to support the service’s response to COVID-19.”
Mr Marsh adds that the NHS 111 command and control structure “is in place and working well, and this needs to be maintained”, but the service is “under immense pressure and we are doing everything we can to further bolster staffing levels there”.
WMAS covers a 5,000-square-mile area consisting of Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, and took over control of NHS 111 in all areas except Staffordshire in November 2019.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust board of directors will receive Mr Marsh’s report when it meets at its Dudley headquarters on Wednesday.
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