The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is looking to bolster frontline numbers by more than 1,650 amid surging demand for its service.

As part of its “most ambitious recruitment drive in its history", LAS is set to hire nearly 500 new paramedics by March 2023 and more than 1,000 operational staff in control centres and handling 999 calls.

It comes after 2021 was the busiest year on record for LAS, with the service responding to 2.1 million 999 calls – up from 1.9 million the previous year – and more than 2.1 million 111 calls.

According to the latest figures from May this year, the LAS took more than 6,000 calls per day on average compared to a pre-pandemic average of 5,500.

Between April 2020 and December 2021, during the Covid pandemic, around 500 firefighters from the London Fire Brigade acted as volunteer ambulance drivers to help LAS meet patient demand.

LAS has still managed to keep response times for the most severe “category one” patients to seven minutes – the national maximum target – but wait times have increased to around 42 minutes for "category two" patients, which could include people suffering a stroke.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited Hounslow to open a new £7million Brentside Education Centre and mark the launch of the recruitment drive.

The LAS expects the centre, alongside a recently-opened twin site in Newham, to train an additional 1,000 new recruits per year.

Mr Khan said there is "no better time" to join the LAS and encouraged “Londoners from all backgrounds” to apply.

He said: “A stronger, bigger London Ambulance Service is integral to supporting the wider NHS and ensuring that all Londoners are safe, healthy and well cared for.

"That is exactly why I’m backing the service’s most ambitious recruitment drive in its history and encouraging Londoners from all backgrounds to apply.

"It’s an opportunity to develop new skills and enter into a fulfilling career, making a difference for Londoners when they need it most.”

Daniel Elkeles, chief executive of LAS, said the new training centre will play a “pivotal role” in the upcoming recruitment drive.

He said: “The ground-breaking technology and excellent quality of teaching at our Brentside site will help us create a new pipeline of homegrown London talent to fill a variety of operational roles at LAS, both on the frontline and in our control rooms.”