Scottish Government slammed by opposition over ambulance wait times
The plight of an Edinburgh OAP left for 16 hours waiting on an ambulance has been raised by Tory shadow health secretary Annie Wells.
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Earlier this week, the Evening News reported on the “horrifying ordeal” 98-year-old Margaret Rothery suffered after she was left without medical assistance for more than 16 hours.
Ms Wells has accused the government for failing to fully resource the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), sparking an increased wait times.
On Saturday, August 14, Ms Rothery, who is ecovering in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, was forced to wait for an ambulance to arrive at her Fairmilehead home.
The SAS cited lack of resources as a key reason for their delay in attending the scene, which shadow health secretary Annie Wells said is “wholly unacceptable”.
But Ms Wells said: “No patient should ever have to wait this long for an ambulance to arrive. This was a wholly unacceptable situation for this elderly woman and her family, and I hope that she is recovering well.”
Wait times for sick patients requiring emergency care has increased this year. Statistics published earlier this month show that 17,697 patients waited more than two hours for an ambulance in 2020/21. Findings also revealed only 70.9 per cent of the most urgent 999 calls waited fewer than 10 minutes for an ambulance - down from 80.8 per cent in 2018/19.
Ms Wells said: “More and more Scots are being forced to wait longer for emergency care because our heroic staff in our accident and emergency departments are completely overwhelmed.
“Humza Yousaf must act urgently to ensure that our emergency services are fully equipped to always respond to any emergency call as quickly as possible.”
The government has hit back at the Tory MSP’s comments, highlighting the success of the country’s emergency services.
“Scotland has had the best performing core A&E departments in the whole of UK for more than six years.” said a government spokesperson.
“Despite the significant pressure on our ambulance service from the pandemic, and serving some of the most rural areas in the UK, in 2020-21 crews responded to over 70 per cent of highest priority calls in under 10 minutes and more than 99 per cent in under 30 minutes.”
The SAS also emphasised the significant pressure the ongoing pandemic has placed on its services in recent months.
A spokesperson said: “Our staff are working tremendously hard during these really challenging times to attend to patients as quickly as possible but like all other health boards, we are experiencing increased demand for our services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In an effort to manage this increase in demand SAS has confirmed it will introduce additional staff, ambulances and the latest equipment across the country.
“As part of our Demand and Capacity programme, we’re introducing additional staff, ambulances and the latest equipment across the country as we develop and grow our workforce at pace to respond to the demands made for our services,” continued the spokesperson.
However, Ms Wells said the increase in wait times has not been caused by the pandemic alone as serious issues with adequate resourcing predate Covid-19.
She said: “Even prior to the pandemic, SNP Ministers had failed to fully resource our ambulance service. This has now turned into a full-blown crisis in our NHS.”