The Army is being drafted in to help the ambulance service keep running amid high staff absences.

Around 150 personnel will partner with North West Ambulance Service on the road to respond to less urgent patients, to try and combat long wait times.

They will begin training on Tuesday and will continue to work for the service for a number of weeks, much like last winter when the military was deployed to more than 4,600 non-life-threatening 999 incidents.

Ged Blezard, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) operations director said: “It is no secret that the ambulance service, along with the NHS as a whole, has been under extreme pressure for several months.

“Now we are also experiencing high numbers of staff absences due to confirmed Covid-19 cases and isolation, with around 25 per cent of the workforce currently affected.

“As part of our resilience planning, we can make a request to the military for support and feel now is the right time to put the arrangements in place.”

The military personnel will receive NWAS training in driving ambulances, manual handling, kit familiarisation and basic life support, similar to the standards of the trust’s patient transport staff who have also been supporting the emergency service throughout the pandemic.

Mr Blezard added: “I would like to thank our NWAS team of staff and volunteers for their continued dedication over the last two years.

“They have been working incredibly hard to deliver the best possible service for our patients.

"Taking this timely intervention to increase our resources means we can carry on doing that while providing extra support for our staff and patients during another challenging period.

“As always, we are here for you in an emergency, and you can assist us by using 111 online if you need urgent care advice and only dialling 999 in a life-threatening situation.”