Around 500 new jobs will be created in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) when it takes charge of mobile Covid-19 testing units north of the border.
While the Armed Forces currently run these testing centres, responsibility for them will transfer to the ambulance service from the start of September.
With the number of mobile testing units also due to be expanded from 13 to 18 by July 15, recruitment for new staff is now underway – with the jobs to remain in place for as long as the service is needed.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said transferring control over mobile testing units to the SAS would help ensure they can play a “sustaintable, long-term response to the pandemic”.
The mobile units operate alongside static drive-through testing centres and coronavirus testing in hospitals and care homes.
Ms Freeman said: “I want to thank the Armed Forces personnel who have been running the mobile testing units in Scotland since they were set up in April.
“Transferring operational delivery to the Scottish Ambulance Service will help to ensure that mobile testing units continue to support testing in local communities and provide a sustainable, long-term response to the pandemic.”
She added: “The units play an important role in NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme which is controlling the spread of Covid-19 in the community.
“But to help that work, it is vital that everyone who has symptoms isolates and books a test immediately. Continuing to supress the spread of the virus is the goal we all share.”
Ambulance service chief executive Pauline Howie said: “Our staff have done a tremendous job throughout the pandemic, working hard to keep patients safe, and we will recruit staff to extend our service to support the crucial Test and Protect programme.
“Our staff work at the heart of all Scotland’s communities, so using us to take Covid-19 testing forward makes good sense – not only can we maintain the high standards set by the Armed Forces, we can ensure people continue to get good quality face-to-face assistance.”
Brigadier Robin Lindsay, Joint Military Command Scotland, stated:”The Armed Forces have been proud to provide support to the Scottish Government’s fight against Covid-19 over the last few months, across a range of different planning, supply and delivery tasks, including staffing the mobile testing units (MTUs) across Scotland.
“The Armed Forces will continue to work with our Scottish and other partners to ensure a smooth handover of this vital work.”