Wales can’t keep depending on military to ‘rescue’ NHS says Simon Hart
Wales can’t keep depending on the military to “rescue” the ambulance service in times of need, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has said.
Simon Hart told The Telegraph that the Welsh government had to understand that the military was not an “open-ended” resource to ease problems with the region’s ambulance service.
They had to sort out the problems in the ambulance service by the end of November, when the military aid would come to and end, he said.
However, the Welsh Government have responded to say that it was Simon Hart himself who drew attention to the availability of the army to step in and help over autumn. Their involvement was also welcomed by the Welsh Conservatives.
The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust submitted a request for additional support under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) arrangement on October 7.
Simon Hart said: “The purpose of MACA requests are for absolutely extraordinary circumstances, specifically in this instance related to Covid.”
He added that “we just need to make sure that we adhere to that”, and that the Welsh government does not think that “soldiers will come to our rescue” every time the ambulance service runs into problems.
“That would be the wrong solution to the longer-term issues,” he said.
He added: “If Welsh government comes back to us in November, we haven’t got an open-ended ability, an unlimited resource for non Covid-related pressure.
“So, in other words, the Welsh government are going to have to resolve this problem within their own ambulance service.
“Our point is to say that time may be coming and they need to make the necessary preparations.
“We’ll be there for emergencies, for Covid support, but the long-term problems of the ambulance service – and they are long term – will require the Welsh government to resolve.”
A Welsh government spokesman responded: “The Secretary of State for Wales wrote to the Welsh Health Minister on the September 13 drawing our attention to the use of Armed Forces personnel to assist ambulance services in parts of England. He proactively offered similar support to Wales.
“We are extremely grateful to the MoD personnel for their assistance which, as with all MACA arrangements, will be time limited.”