Whiteford set for showdown talks with ambulance boss

editorial image

The Buchan Observer can reveal that Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford is set for showdown talks with the Scottish Ambulance Service after shocking response time figures came to light.

Paramedics took longer than 20 minutes to react to 47 life-threatening incidents in Peterhead in the last year - the worst figures in Scotland.

In Fraserburgh that figure was 36 and only Peterhead, Edinburgh and Glasgow had more 20 minute or more late responses.

Dr Whiteford has already had protracted correspondence with officials from the service but the Buchanie understands the negotiations were unsatisfactory.

Now SNP politician Dr Whiteford will meet with the divisional manager later this week to push for change.

Dr Whiteford said: “I think we all value the hard work of our dedicated ambulance staff who do a difficult job under demanding circumstances.

“However, it is simply not good enough that the Scottish Ambulance Service is failing to meet their response time targets in places like Peterhead and Fraserburgh and this needs to be addressed urgently so that people living in these towns can once again be reassured that they are receiving the level of service that the Ambulance Service is expected to provide.

“I have already met with the Scottish Ambulance Service regarding ambulance coverage and response times in the North-east, and I will be meeting with the Divisional Manager of the Service next week when I hope to hear of the service’s plans for improvement .”

News of Dr Whiteford’s ongoing behind-the-scenes efforts to seek an explanation for new and alarming statistics came to light after Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland, Alison McInnes, demanded an urgent investigation into the delays.

Ms McInnes singled out the Peterhead and Fraserburgh figures, although emergency response times in her constituency towns of Banff, Buckie, Macduff and Cruden Bay were also concerning.

She said: “Our Ambulance Service does fantastic, life-saving work in our communities every day.

“But I think Ambulance Service staff would be amongst the first to recognise that the figures for towns and villages across the North East are hugely concerning.

“But on hundreds of occasions during the last year alone it took 20 minutes or longer to reach people in the North East involved in a life-threatening situation.

“In the most remote parts of the North East, reaching emergency response targets is always likely to be a challenge.”However, people will have questions over why some of our largest towns are amongst the worst performers in Scotland.

She added that the eight-minute target response time for serious incidents was put in place ‘for good reason’.

“The Scottish Government needs to look closely at why it is being missed and why so many patients in our area have been forced to wait more than twice as long to receive medical assistance.”

Ambulance officials said that the average national response time was six and a half minutes - well within the target time - despite a 10 percent increase in demand.

Several factors can affect response times but the fact Peterhead and Fraserburgh were only matched by the capital and Scotland’s largest city remains alarming

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Last year emergency teams responded to over 650,000 incidents across Scotland, 142,340 of which were potentially life threatening.

“Response times can be affected by a number of factors, including demand patterns and weather conditions, but ambulance staff are committed to delivering the highest standards of patient care, often do so in extremely challenging situations.

“All 999 responses are monitored by control room staff and if for any reason there is a delay paramedic advisors will review the call and provide additional clinical support to the caller.”