New analysis reveals ambulance service in its own blue light crisis

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called for an inquiry into avoidable emergency care deaths after new analysis of these life and death services was published for the first time. 

The Scottish Ambulance Service have announced that they are to provide weekly updates on unscheduled care incidents. 

It shows:

  • For purple incidents (the highest priority) the median response time is 7 minutes 32 seconds and the 90th percentile response time is 15 minutes 41 seconds 
  • For red incidents (second highest priority), the median response time is 8 minutes 40 seconds and the 90th percentile response time is 18 minutes 27 seconds
  • Turnaround times at hospitals have continued to worsen, as they have done consistently since 2014. The median turnaround time for ambulances at hospital now stands at 39 minutes. The 90th percentile waits have risen from 36 minutes in 2014, to 51 minutes pre-pandemic and now stand at 74 minutes.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“The SNP continuously ignored the warnings ambulance staff made for years. We are now seeing the results of that neglect and it should trigger an inquiry into avoidable emergency care deaths.

“If the service were a patient, then blue lights would be flashing now. 

“The Health Secretary has often used the pandemic as an excuse but the former Chief Executive of NHS Scotland Paul Gray has said that a pressure cooker crisis was coming regardless of the pandemic.

“The Health Secretary should admit that he had previously underestimated the scale of the challenge and that the present NHS recovery plan is not up to scratch. 

“Staff are at their wits end coping not just with the pandemic but with the consequences of 14 years of SNP failure. 

“I have been calling for a Burnout Prevention Plan for NHS staff because many are on the brink. They have nursed us through the pandemic but in many cases at the cost of their own physical and mental health. Workloads are such that staff can’t take breaks and are being asked to take on too many extra shifts. 

“The government must ensure that if anyone is, unfortunately, in need of an ambulance because of a code red or purple, help will arrive fast. Swift action might be the difference between life and death.” 

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