5 August 2022: Yesterday (4 August), the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay MP, visited St John Ambulance’s West Midlands ambulance hub and met with volunteers and staff to hear first-hand of their lifesaving work in communities across the region. 

During the visit, Mr Barclay outlined the government’s support for ambulance services, including the recent national ambulance auxiliary contract. For up to four years, St John Ambulance’s clinically trained volunteers and staff will help add resilience to NHS ambulance trusts, responding to 999 calls and treat and transport patients across the country. 

Deputy Chief Executive Richard Lee, Director of Health and Volunteering Operations Craig Harman, and regional St John leaders gave Mr Barclay a tour of the charity's ambulance fleet and introduced him to some of the region’s inspiring people, where he learned how St John has delivered over 1.6 million hours of support to the NHS. 

The Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: The response during the pandemic from the ambulance crew and local volunteers at St John Ambulance in the West Midlands was invaluable in delivering lifesaving jabs and supporting the NHS at an incredibly challenging time. 

I am acutely aware of the pressures on emergency services and so I am delighted this new contract with St John Ambulance will provide crew members and volunteers with extra support to help reduce delays in 999 response times. This will ensure patients get the care they need when they need it. 

We are also taking further steps to boost performance – the health service has allocated £150 million for ambulance services to help meet pressures, including through recruiting and retaining more call handlers, as well as £20 million invested this year to upgrade the ambulance fleet. 

Speaking with St John ambulance crew and volunteers during the visit, Mr Barclay heard about their personal experiences over the past few years and thanked them for the support they have shown the West Midlands community.  

St John Emergency Ambulance Crew, Arni Sanderson-Brown, who had the opportunity to talk to the Health Secretary and has been responding as part of a double crewed ambulance during the pandemic, said: It has been a truly humbling experience being able to support the NHS during such a challenging time. 

St John volunteers across the country make a huge difference in communities – from responding in ambulances, through our night-time economy work, or delivering essential vaccinations. It’s a great feeling knowing we are helping to ease the pressure on our hard-working NHS colleagues by using our clinical skills.