NHS trusts will donate a surplus fleet of ambulances to Ukraine to help replace vehicles lost in the Russian bombing, the government has announced.
The Foreign Ministry said a donation of 20 ambulances would strengthen the resilience of Ukraine’s emergency services which have been strained by Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion – now in its sixth week.
The vehicles are expected to arrive in the western city of Lviv later this week before being transported to areas most in need.
The department added it would help replace Ukrainian ambulances lost to shelling, and comes after a Russian strike against a maternity hospital in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol last month.
They include four ambulances provided by the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted the ambulance donation ‘marks the first of many’.
As part of the NHS National Ambulance Fleet Strategy, vehicles are decommissioned and replaced after five years. Decommissioned ambulances are normally kept for their resilience, donated to approved charities or sent to auction.
The move comes as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has pledged to push Russia’s economy ‘back into the Soviet era’ as she tries to urge EU allies to tighten sanctions after the atrocities revealed in the town of Bucha.
In a statement, she said: “We have sadly seen day after day the horrific effects of Putin’s cruel war on the people of Ukraine, including evidence of appalling acts committed by Russian troops in cities like Irpin and Bucha. .
“The UK has been one of the biggest aid donors, providing food, medicine and generators to help those affected.
“These world-class NHS ambulances will now provide life-saving care directly to those injured in the conflict.”
According to the Foreign Office, the UK has donated more than a million medical supplies to Ukraine, including 380,000 boxes of medicine and 3,000 adult resuscitators.
Paul Kempster, chief operating officer of the South Central Ambulance Service, which donated four ambulances, added: “We hope this small gesture will help provide immediate medical support to the many people in desperate need.