THE number of military personnel supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service as drivers will be more than doubled in the new year in response to “extreme pressure”.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said an additional 184 armed forces personnel will be made available as drivers to support the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust from January 4.

Since October there have been 129 personnel supporting the service as drivers, and Thursday’s announcement will take the total number to 313.

The deployment has also been extended until the end of March, the MoD said.

The chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, Jason Killens, said: “Having our armed forces colleagues will help us put more ambulances on duty so we can get to more patients, more quickly, while the extreme pressure continues.”

It follows 98 military personnel being made available to support the Welsh vaccine booster programme last week, which in addition to drivers brings the total number of armed forces personnel assisting with pandemic-related support in Wales to 411, according to the MoD.

Secretary of state for Wales Simon Hart said the armed forces “continue to play a key role in the fight against Covid-19 in Wales”.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “Over the festive period our servicemen and women will continue to provide vital support to our dedicated emergency services across the UK to help keep communities safe.

“The uplift of 184 extra personnel to support the ambulance service in Wales will ensure they can continue to provide life-saving services to those most in need.”

Mr Killens said: “We’re very grateful to have the continued support of the military who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously.”

He added: “The winter period is our busiest time and having military support will bolster our capacity and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”