Army to be drafted in to cover for striking ambulance workers


Ambulance crews in England are due to walk out for two days on December 21 and 28 in a row over pay (Picture: PA)

The Army has been drafted in to cover for ambulance drivers and border staff during strike action.

There has already been backlash to the announcement – with unions claiming the military are not ‘sufficiently trained’ to plug staffing gaps on the front line.

Around 1,200 troops from the Army, Navy and RAF are being deployed to fill in for ambulance drivers and border staff during widespread walkouts over the festive period.

More than 1,000 civil servants have also been drafted in to help.

Ambulance crews in England are due to walk out for two days on December 21 and 28 in a row over pay.

Unions have accused the Government of trying to ‘mask’ the ‘effectiveness’ of strike action, having spent time on contingency planning that could have been ‘better’ invested in securing a deal.

They also warned military personnel are not properly qualified to guard the borders or drive ambulances, insisting troops should not be put in such an ‘invidious’ position when they already have ‘enough on their plate’.

Ministers are looking to mitigate disruption caused by widespread strikes in the public sector.

Military personnel were previously used to assist the NHS during staffing shortages during the Omicron variant surge (Picture: PA)

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said his ‘number one priority’ is keeping patients ‘as safe as possible’ as he reiterated the Government’s position that union demands are ‘not affordable’.

Military personnel will also join more than 1,000 civil servants to cover for striking Border Force staff, as members of the Public and Commercial Services union walk out for eight days from December 23 until New Year’s Eve.

They will help ‘minimise disruption for passengers’ by checking documents and passports.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office will publish a new ‘resilience framework’ on Monday, bringing together all levels of government, as well as the private sector, charities and the public to ‘bolster’ the UK’s preparedness for industrial action.

Mr Barclay said: ‘I have listened to unions and am open to further discussions but their demands are not affordable in the economic circumstances.’

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