Welsh Government confirms it won’t be using military personnel to replace striking ambulances drivers
The Welsh Government has confirmed that it will not be drafting in military personnel to help drive ambulances during the strike which is due to take place next Wednesday (21 December).
Welsh Ambulance Service workers voted to take strike action over pay last month, alongside staff at eight trusts in England, totalling more than 10,000 workers in total.
The GMB union confirmed its members working as paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in Wales.
Members of the Unison and Unite unions will also take part in the industrial action on Wednesday and GMB workers plan to hold another walkout three days after Christmas.
The UK Government is deploying 1,200 troops from the Army, Navy and RAF to fill in for ambulance drivers and border staff during widespread walkouts over the festive period, with more than 1,000 civil servants also drafted in to help.
Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, has warned the military is “no substitute” for qualified ambulance staff, while Nathan Holman, from GMB, said bringing in “untrained” personnel would be a “hindrance” rather than a help.
Without specialist training in exceeding speed limits and passing through red lights, Mr Holman told the PA news agency the military would only be able to respond to the “least urgent calls”.
In its statement, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “There are no plans to use military assistance for frontline ambulance services during strike days in Wales.
“Assistance from the Armed Forces has been agreed for logistical support, helping ensure that available ambulance capacity is used to the best effect.”
Military personnel have previously been brought in to help drive ambulances in Wales, most recently during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Welsh Ambulance Service has said emergency services will still be available during the strike and it is working with the unions to ensure essential services cans still be delivered.
People are also advised to plan ahead, stock up on any prescriptions, only call 999 or 111 if there is a genuine need to do so.
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