London's blue light collaboration must continue post-COVID
The coronavirus crisis has sparked close collaboration between London's blue light services and there is no doubt that lives have been saved as a result. It's vital that this collaboration continues and expands to keep Londoners safe.
In the face of this unprecedented crisis, the London Fire Brigade has stepped up to relieve pressure on other blue light services. In particular, their work with the London Ambulance Service has helped to protect our NHS and bolster London's response to the pandemic.
As of 21st April, 282 fire brigade staff have been driving ambulances and 103 volunteer staff have joined new Pandemic Multiagency Response Teams to respond to COVID-19 deaths in the community.
Until now, blue light collaboration in our city has been frustratingly slow partly due to reluctance from trade unions. However, in this crisis, London's emergency services may have at last found a blueprint which could be built on post-COVID.
At today's London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee, I was pleased to hear that the London Fire Commissioner believes there is more support from trade unions to step up collaboration going forward.
Outside of London, there is far more joint working between emergency services with examples of services being located together. While there are some examples of this happening in our city, progress has been slow.
There is vast scope for co-locating in London. The London Fire Brigade's 102 stations could be used to house the Metropolitan Police's local Safer Neighbourhood Teams where appropriate. In addition, back-office functions such as Human Resources could be shared to find efficiencies so more resources can be directed to the front-line.
Blue light collaboration during this crisis has helped save lives and protect our NHS. This is something that must continue post-COVID to keep London safe, and the GLA Conservatives will continue to push the Mayor to deliver it.
Blog by GLA Conservative Fire, Resilience, and Emergency Planning Spokesman Susan Hall AM.