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McArthur Shocked By Lack of Land Ambulance Cover in Orkney

Ambulance cover in Mainland and the linked South Isles in Orkney has come in for serious criticism by constituency MSP Liam McArthur, LibDem.

As reported earlier Liam McArthur took up this issue with Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Public Health in the Scottish Government who confirmed that he would investigate it further. Liam McArthur MSP Concerned About Land Ambulance Cover in Orkney

From 1st December 2018 to 18th of December 2019,  there were 168 occasions when the land ambulance was unable to immediately attend a call because it was already deployed to another call out. There was also 1 instance where for a period of 2 hours there was no land ambulance cover.

In response to the figures from Joe Fitzpatrick, Liam McArthur said:

“These figures reveal the extent to which land ambulance capacity in Orkney is failing to meet the needs of patients. People in Orkney will be shocked to hear how often those making emergency calls are being forced to wait due to a lack of land ambulance cover.  In many instances, these will be cases where the response time can be critical.

“This is absolutely no criticism of Orkney’s ambulance crews, who do outstanding work in operating a service that is clearly over-stretched.  Indeed, the admission from the Minister about the scale of the problem shows that local crews are being let down by a lack of resources and support. This can only be making an already difficult job even more challenging.

“I am due to meet senior representatives of the Scottish Ambulance Service early next month. I will make clear the need for an urgent review into the resources available locally and calling for additional capacity to meet the needs of the Orkney community.  This is the very least that the public and our ambulance staff deserve”.

The Scottish Ambulance Service primary use is for emergency situations but it is also required for transport i.e. to and from Kirkwall airport,  if the patient requires skilled assistance. You can find out about that here: Ambulance Support Leaflet

The Orkney News has also previously highlighted the importance of defibrillators in the community: “Applying a controlled shock with a defibrillator within 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest provides the best chance of that person surviving.”

Unfortunately being able to check the live performance figures with the Scottish Ambulance Service is still unavailable, as it was when The Orkney News last reported on this issue. Scottish Ambulance Live Performance

It still has this message:

Published on 02/12/19 at 11:30

Unfortunately, live figures are currently unavailable.Apologies for any inconvenience.

Across Scotland as a whole the period at Hogmanay was very busy with an increase on the previous year of 2.7%. There were 2547 calls between 7pm on 31st December 2019 and 7am on 1st January 2020.

It should be remembered that ambulance staff and all our emergency services provide  24/7 cover year round.

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service said:

“Our frontline staff have coped with an exceptionally busy period over Hogmanay. It was a real challenge this year, as it has been over the whole festive period, but day in, day out our staff  have constantly risen to the challenges and have shown real dedication.

“They have all done a great job and have helped us continue to deliver the highest possible level of care to patients across Scotland.

“I would like to thank all our fantastic staff for their hard work in 2019 caring for patients and saving lives and I wish them a very happy New Year.”

Scottish Ambulance Service

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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