Transport vehicles refitted to become emergency ambulances as hundreds of new faces are brought in answer 999 and 111 calls

Hundreds of new recruits have been brought in to answer emergency and other medical calls during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael Holmes
Thursday, 14th May 2020, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th May 2020, 1:26 pm

The North West Ambulance Service said it had hired 187 new 999 call centre staff, while 150 extra 111 helpline clinicians, health, and service advisors have been recruited.

Eighty non-emergency patient transport vehicles have been converted and refitted with the kit needed to answer more urgent calls, and they will be manned by students and apprentices, while 150 patient transport service workers have volunteered to get extra training so they can work alongside paramedics.

Temporary training centres have been set up using empty spaces in local schools as the service, which covers the whole of Lancashire, teaches its students, apprentices, redeployed staff, and some agency workers.

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Some of the new recruits

The trust’s boss Daren Mochrie said: “Providing the right care to the people of the north west is always our number one priority and we knew from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we would need to be ready for an increase in demand on our service.

“Expanding our workforce in this way has allowed us to continue to help those who need us. It was not an easy task – increasing our workforce at this pace and scale has taken a real team effort from across the organisation so thank you to all the departments who have been involved – from IT to estates, our education and training, HR, transformation and programme management teams, as well as all the clinical and operational staff who have welcomed new colleagues and supported them.

“It takes courage to step up to a challenging new role at a time like this and we really do appreciate the support and input from all our new starters and volunteers.

“We have received so much support from the public and all we ask is that everyone continues to help us out by following government advice and doing your part to protect the NHS and save lives.

“We are here for you if you need us – dial 999 if you have a life-threatening illness or injury, such as chest pain, symptoms of a stroke or severe bleeding. If it’s not an emergency, you can visit 111 Online for urgent care advice.”

The ambulance service has so far announced it has lost two workers to the coronavirus: patient transport service care assistant Phil Rennie, who died on Sunday, and a long-serving paramedic, who has not been named publicly to respect the wishes of his family, who died last month.