The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is pleading with former employees and retired workers to re-join the service as it continues to struggle under "unprecedented demand" caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

LAS, the largest ambulance trust in the UK, is asking former members of staff, including paramedics, call handlers and other clinicians to get in touch if they are able to help.

The service is reportedly experiencing some of its busiest days in its history, with call handlers dealing with nearly eight thousand calls per day.

St John Ambulance, the nation's auxiliary ambulance service, has also said it is preparing to deploy over 500 staff a day to assist the NHS's response to the pandemic.

Its director Craig Harman said that their response would be a "marathon not a sprint", with 500 people every day likely to be needed at the peak of the outbreak.

London has emerged as the UK epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the last couple of weeks, with 2,400 cases, over a third of the nation's total.

The total death toll has now reached 335, with multiple deaths and nearly 300 cases in south east London.

The appeal follows Boris Johnson's announcement that the UK has effectively been placed into lockdown, measures aimed at reducing the massive pressure currently being placed on the NHS.

The NHS has been running a similar campaign to recruit ex-employees, and earlier this week health secretary Matt Hancock said 4,500 retired healthcare workers had signed up to help in the battle.

NHS England have also made a deal with private hospitals to provide 20,000 fully qualified staff and 8,000 more hospital beds.

Talking to ITV News, Garrett Emmerson, chief executive of the London Ambulance Service, said: “Obviously we’re incredibly busy at the moment both in our 999 and 111 call centres.

"In the 999 service we’ve had some of the busiest days in our history with nearly 8,000 calls. That’s way busier than any New Year’s Eve that we would normally do.

“One of the things we’re now going to do is ask if there are any former LAS employees, particularly call handlers who are able to come back and help us out in control centres.”

This Is Local London:

On Thursday, March 19, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting LAS's Integrated Urgent Care Centre for south east London to meet staff who have been taking calls from the public.

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