London Ambulance Service chief executive Daniel Elkeles today paid tribute to the ‘awe-inspiring’ dedication of colleagues for giving their all to patients throughout the Covid pandemic.
This week marks the second anniversary of the first patients being admitted to London hospitals with the virus. To coincide with this milestone, Mr Elkeles has written an open letter to London describing the pressure on staff and volunteers over the past two years.
Elkeles said: ‘It’s been physically and emotionally exhausting for our staff and volunteers, and we owe them huge thanks for adapting to radically new ways of working and making huge personal sacrifices. Every day they stayed away from home to protect loved ones, every extra shift they picked up, every dinner with friends and family missed because they were working late, has made a very real difference to our patients and colleagues.
‘To each and every one of our staff and volunteers, I know that the words “thank you” simply do not reflect the sheer hard work and commitment you have put in over the past 24 months, but I am inspired by your selflessness and professionalism, and remain beyond grateful to you all.’
Since that time two years ago, London Ambulance Service has responded to unprecedented demand in incredibly difficult circumstances. It has taken more than 4 million 999 calls and 3.6 million 111 calls, and attended 2.2 million emergencies.
To respond to demand, the service forged ground-breaking partnerships with NHS partners and blue-light colleagues, with more than 400 London Fire Brigade firefighters and Metropolitan police officers driving ambulances to bolster the workforce. The logistics hub at Deptford was overhauled to help deliver more than 2 million items of protective equipment all over London and a new 999 control room was built in a single weekend.
The effort to keep responding to the pandemic continues. 2021 was the busiest year ever at London Ambulance Service. On average it took 700 more 999 calls each day than in the first year of the pandemic and is still navigating through a very challenging winter.
Elkeles also thanked the public and partners like the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade for all their support. ‘To these partners and the volunteers that came forward to help us, we are extremely grateful. And to the public who donated food and toiletries or showed random acts of kindness to staff on the road or sent us letters – thank you. When times were tough, these kind gestures made a difference to us, knowing how much we were appreciated.’
Elkeles said he was enormously proud of what colleagues had achieved, but acknowledged the huge toll the virus had taken on the country and the London Ambulance Service.
He said: ‘At this time, I also remember and honour all those 26 colleagues from our “green family” who were among those who sadly died during this pandemic. The people of London owe you a debt of gratitude which I hope will never be forgotten.’