Military personnel have been drafted into the east of England to ease the pressure on stretched ambulance crews.
Around two dozen army staff are taking on patient transport duties in Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire so that drivers can help deal with surging 999 calls.
UNISON Eastern regional secretary Tim Roberts said: “The East of England Ambulance Service was underfunded and overstretched even before the pandemic. With the huge extra pressures from Covid and its knock-on effect on staffing, it’s little wonder the trust has had to turn to the military for help.
“But drafting in the army to replace highly trained ambulance staff is a crude sticking plaster to patch up much bigger problems. Adequate long-term government funding and measures to retain ambulance staff, including better pay, adequate breaks and finishing on time, are urgently needed rather than a succession of quick fixes.”