Health Secretary Lansley pledges Olympics won’t drain NHS resources

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley pledged that emergency cover for 2012 Games won’t drain NHS resources when he visited the Olympics ambulance emergency control centre set up in east London which had its trial run today.

He arrived at the centre in Bromley-by-Bow to see how staff will cope during the Games which open on July 27 and was shown a bank of 36 computerised desks where incoming calls will be dispatched to a new fleet of 66 ambulances to any calls at the Olympics venues.

Mr Lansley told the Advertiser: “We made provision for ambulance cover as part of the overall Olympics budget. It’s extra Department of Health funding to support the 2012 Games which was part of our Olympics bid.

“No resources are being taken from NHS day-to-day running costs.”

The air-ambulance helicopter at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel won’t be used except under extreme circumstances, which means its day-to-day emergency cover across London also won’t be affected.

“The quickest response will be the ground ambulances inside the park,” Mr Lansley added. “They will be geared to get emergencies to Homerton Hospital just a few minutes away, which will be quicker than landing a helicopter and airlifting patients.

“We’ve taken extreme scenarios into our planning to ensure we have resources that people in east London expect, so that normal emergency and NHS services aren’t diminished by the Games.”

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Extra staff are being drafted in from ambulance services around the country to cope with the expected workload, with 200 operators manning the new control centre at Bromley-by-Bow on round-the-clock shifts. Some 400 ambulance staff will be on duty at Games venues inside the park.