By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has demanded that the Scottish Government take urgent action to combat Scotland’s healthcare crisis.
Mr Cole Hamilton, right, revealed new figures showing that average waiting times for the most critical level of ambulance calls have worsened in nearly every local authority over the past three years.
A Scottish Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request for average ambulance wait times for each of the last three financial years reveals that:
- Average wait times for purple (highest priority) calls breached the 8-minute target in 25 local authorities in 2021/22.
- The highest average waiting time for purple calls was in the Scottish Borders, where patients waited an average of 12 minutes and 46 seconds.
- Aberdeenshire, Shetland, the Western Isles and Angus all also averaged over 12 minutes.
- Between 2019/2020 and 2021/22, 25 local authorities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Fife, experienced an increase in average waiting times for purple calls.
Fifty three pert cent of patients in the purple category are experiencing cardiac arrest.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:“People in life-threatening situations need to know that someone will be there to help them when they need it.
“Tragically and despite the best efforts of hard-pressed paramedics, all across Scotland, this is simply not happening.
“It is unforgivable that the Scottish Government continues to roll out the tired excuse of Covid. Even the former Chief Executive of NHS Scotland Paul Gray has said that a pressure cooker crisis was coming regardless of the pandemic.
“Anyone can see that this is likely to be one of the hardest winters the NHS has ever faced. Staff are already overwhelmed and patients are already suffering.
“The Scottish Government have continuously ignored the warnings of ambulance staff. They have also opposed and voted down Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals to tackle the crisis, such as a staff burnout prevention strategy.
“The Health Secretary must fundamentally change his approach and get control of the crisis, otherwise he will need to go because patients and staff have been taken for granted for far too long.”