News that up to 10,000 armed forces personnel have been placed at a higher readiness across the UK, so they are able to assist with supporting public services has been welcomed by Member of the Welsh Parliament, Russell George.
This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness and the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Montgomeryshire has welcomed a series of announcements from the Armed Forces which will see them assist in responding to emergencies, assist with non-clinical tasks and drive ambulances when required.
The Ministry of Defence has also recently established a Covid19 Aviation Task Force to support frontline emergency services in their fight against Covid19 across the UK, an offer of assistance which has been declined by the Welsh Government.
Commenting, Mr George said:
"The Army in Wales is already training 60 soldiers to prepare to support the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) in the battle against COVID-19.
"Military planning and liaison personnel are also deployed across Wales and will support the NHS in Wales’ development of field hospitals and armed forces personnel drawn from each of the three services have been training to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS.
"In times of crisis, our Armed Forces always rise to the challenge by making themselves available to support our communities and defend them from threats."
By using the UK’s Armed Forces helicopters, with their specialist equipment enabling night flight capabilities, the Aviation Task Force can help to reduce the pressures on vital frontline services such as the Wales Air Ambulance Service.
Mr George added:
"By using the UK’s Armed Forces helicopters, with their specialist equipment enabling night flight capabilities, the Task Force can help to reduce the pressures on vital frontline services such as the Wales Air Ambulance Service.
"It is therefore extraordinarily disappointing that the offer of assistance from the Task Force has been declined by the Welsh Government, despite it being successfully deployed in Scotland and England.
"Right now the Aviation Task Force stands ready and willing to assist with emergency hospital transfers and the delivery of essential equipment to hospitals and other facilities as we seek to defeat the Coronavirus yet it appears that the Welsh Government has declined the offer of support."
Darren Millar AM – who is Chair of the Cross-Party Group on the Armed Forces and Cadets in the Senedd – added:
“I have written to the First Minster to urge him reconsider this position; when we are on a war footing we need to take advantage of every asset at our disposal to save lives and relieve pressure on our NHS.
"Measures have also been taken to enable the call out of Reservists, should they be required to join the response effort."