South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has exposed the dangerously deteriorating ambulance situation across the south of Scotland.
New figures obtained by Scottish Labour by Freedom of Information (FOI) confirm the growing crisis in Scotland’s A&Es has hit ambulance services in the region.
University Hospital Crosshouse saw a median ambulance turnaround time increasing by 87 per cent since 2014, one of the worst in Scotland according to Labour’s figures (see attached document for full breakdown). University Hospital Ayr’s turnaround time increased by 79 per cent since 2014.
Worryingly, this information only runs until July of this year, raising concerns that the reality is now even worse. Across Scotland we have ambulance services plunged even deeper into crisis over recent weeks, with reports of patients waiting up to 40 hours.
Colin Smyth raised concerns over the ambulance crisis with the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. In particular fears that even if improvements are made in response times, a lack of NHS staff will mean patients face delays when they get to hospital.
Speaking in Holyrood, he said: “The cabinet secretary has just admitted that the reason for the reluctance to establish temporary wards and field hospitals is that health boards are struggling to safely staff existing hospitals.
“What does it say about the Government’s more than a decade of utter failure in NHS workforce planning that health boards have been unable to recruit enough nurses and doctors to meet pre-pandemic demand, never mind the extra demand caused by the crisis?”
Speaking after the debate, Colin continued: “These damning figures show just how badly Scotland’s growing ambulance crisis has hit our region.
“These problems have been building for years while SNP Ministers buried their heads in the sand – and now things have escalated into a national emergency.
“Pandemic or no pandemic, no-one should face delays getting to hospital and then be stuck outside waiting hours for urgent help.
“Our NHS staff, paramedics, and call-handlers are working tirelessly to get people the care they need, but they are being failed too. The Government have simply not invested in making sure we have the staff we needed before the pandemic, never mind in the middle of one.
“The SNP need to get to grips with this crisis before any more lives are lost.”