Monday 1 August: St John Ambulance has today been formally commissioned to provide England’s ambulance auxiliary, following a competitive tendering process.

The first aid and health response charity will continue adding resilience to NHS ambulance trusts, treating and transporting patients across the country, through a contract worth up to £30 million over four years.

Richard Lee, St John Ambulance’s deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, said: “St John has always supported the health service through emergency ambulance provision during peak periods and seasonal demands, but this new contract gives the vital relationship between our charity and NHS England firm foundations for the future.

“This evolution of our longstanding relationship with the health service enables us to put in the additional long-term planning and investment in people and fleet that’s required to live up to our mission of being an ambulance auxiliary that can be relied upon every time.

“Now we can continue to deliver the excellent patient care St John ambulance crews and other St John people have delivered during Covid-19 - where we have stepped up and provided 1.6 million hours of support to communities – including ensuring our highly-trained emergency ambulance crews and vehicles are always here for the NHS and your community in times of greatest need.”

The ambulance auxiliary contract, which starts today, will see St John Ambulance provide at least 5,000 hours per month of support (more than 400 12-hour shifts) to England’s 10 NHS ambulance trusts.

St John provided support for ambulance services throughout the pandemic and has been called upon by the NHS during periods of winter pressures and during other emergencies before that.

The charity has around 800 ambulance crew members – a mixture of employees and volunteers – with more than 250 ambulances. 

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Hardworking NHS colleagues across the country have gone over and above this summer, despite significant pressures, including the recent heatwave along with the busiest ever June for 999 calls and record numbers of the most urgent ambulance-callouts for services.

“The new Ambulance Auxiliary Service helps to build on the vital role played by St John Ambulance since the formation of the health service and will complement existing services, with the support of around 800 emergency ambulance crew members and 250 ambulances.

“This new agreement with one of our longest partners is a welcome addition as the NHS does everything it can to boost capacity ahead of what is set to be another difficult winter.”