In just three days, over 1,000 people applied to become a lifesaver in the West Midlands. Together with hundreds of students, West Midlands Ambulance Service is enacting unprecedented plans to protect the public and save lives.
In these extraordinary times that face our country, we have put extensive plans that will see a substantial increase in staff numbers and upskilling hundreds of existing staff so that they can help the public.
Over recent weeks, we have increased the number of call assessors in both our 999 and 111 control rooms, but last weekend we asked for applications to increase that number further. In just 72 hours, over 1,000 people had applied.
We are now fast tracking those applications with dozens of interviews held yesterday with more taking place on Friday.
In addition, the Trust has been working with our local university partners (Staffordshire, Coventry, Worcester, Wolverhampton and Birmingham City) to recruit around 200 third year paramedic students.
These are students who are just weeks away from qualifying and have spent thousands of hours on our ambulances, working with our staff, treating patients. They are very well trained and experienced already.
All of them will work with fully qualified paramedics and technicians on the road. As of Monday, this has allowed us to double the number of ambulances operating from our Bromsgrove Hub, where we have gone from 20 crews a day to 40.
A further 130 Year 2 university graduate paramedics have also been taken on to work as assistants to our vehicle preparation operatives; the staff who play a vital role cleaning and re-stocking our ambulances which allows our clinical staff to spend more time treating patients. This will double our capacity at a time when this role has never been more important.
Emergency Services Operations Delivery Director, Nathan Hudson, said: “We are receiving huge support from our university students who are desperate to do their part to help the nation at this time. Many are already very familiar to our staff and the response we have had from the team at Bromsgrove has been incredible with the students made to feel very welcome.
“These students would have qualified over the next few weeks as HCPC registered paramedics so are a tremendous asset for us and I have no doubt that they will help to save many lives over the coming weeks. I am incredibly proud of the students and also our staff for doing the right thing to help patients.”
Our existing staff are also playing their part. With the number of non-emergency appointments significantly reduced, 320 of our patient transport service staff have agreed to undertake additional training so that we can significantly increase our ability to transport GP patient referrals, hospital discharges and low acuity patients where appropriate using strict protocols.
Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “We are dealing with a Global Pandemic and a National Emergency. COVID-19 presents the NHS with arguably the greatest challenge it has faced since its creation.
“I am committed to doing everything necessary to protect the public and save lives. Seeing the lengths that our staff are going to, to help people has never made me feel prouder to lead such an organisation.
“We have taken difficult decisions in recent weeks and will continue to do everything necessary to ensure we protect the 999 service, but it is vital that the public help us.
“The message is clear, Stay at home; Protect the NHS; Save lives. Anyone can spread the virus so:
Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home