West Midlands Ambulance Service recruit new 999 callers to help tackle coronavirus
The Trust, which runs the call centre, confirmed there will be extra investment to recruit more call handlers to deal with the increase in demand.
Under-represented communities, such people from BME backgrounds, are encouraged to apply for the demanding role.
It comes as 28 fatalities from COVID-19 have been recorded in the region.
They include the Royal Wolverhampton Trust, which has recorded nine fatalities – the highest death toll of any NHS hospital organisation in the UK.
21 infected patients have died at hospitals ran by three neighbouring NHS trusts in the vicinity of Birmingham, while 7 fatalities at the Dudley Group Foundation Trust and 5 at the West Birmingham Hospitals Trust have been recorded.
Claire Brown, Communications Officer for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “COVID-19 presents the NHS with arguably the greatest challenge it has faced since its creation. Protecting our control rooms and our front-line 999 emergency service is our top priority.”
The service has received more than 1,000 applicants from people eager to train to become call assessors and help the NHS, which she says, is ‘incredibly humbling.’
“Thank you to everyone that applied to offer support to our service. Our recruitment team are working hard to shortlist and process applicants so that we can further bolster our control room capacity.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service took over the running of the NHS 111 service for the majority of the region last year in November.
NHS 111 staff take details of the caller’s problem and use a clinical decision support system to help assess people over the phone, make appropriate referrals and give health advice to enable patients to manage their symptoms.
An NHS spokesperson said: “Anyone with concerns about coronavirus can use the NHS 111 online service. People may have to wait longer than usual, as all enquiries are being responded to thanks to our hard-working NHS staff.
“In addition, extra investment means the NHS is recruiting more call handlers to support those already working around the clock to give expert advice to callers on coronavirus and other medical concerns.”