Calls are being made for an inquiry into response times by the Scottish Ambulance Service in Moray.
The call comes after new figures revealed that the eight-minute target time for response by paramedics was missed 54 times in Moray – with the service taking over 20 minutes to reach emergency call outs in Buckie, Elgin, Lossiemouth and Keith.
Figures published for 2013/14 have shown that 28 emergency calls to addresses in Buckie had a response time of over 20 minutes – while there were 10 in Elgin and Lossiemouth and six in Keith.
Weather, road works, traffic conditions and demand were blamed as reasons for the high level of missed target response times with a Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman saying that staff were delivering the highest standards of patient care in “extremely challenging situations”.
The spokesman added that in Scotland as a whole the ambulance service had responded to 650,000 incidents during the year, 142,340 of which were potentially life-threatening, with the average response time for such calls six and a half minutes – despite a 10% increase in demand.
But Dr Jean Turner of the Scottish Patients Association said that she was “extremely disappointed” with the figures.
She said: “Most people expect ambulances to come when you need them if you have had a heart attack or a stroke.
“Twenty minutes will seem to be an eternity if you had a heart attack, stroke or some other traumatic injury in a car accident. I hope an inquiry is carried out into these figures to try and improve them.”
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume said that the while the ambulance service does a “great job” the Scottish Government needs to provide staff with the support they need to improve response times.
He said: “The eight-minute target for responses to serious incidents was introduced for good reason. Ministers now need to look closely at why this it is still being missed, and why so many patients have been forced to wait more than double this time to receive medical assistance.
“The Scottish Government needs to get a grip on these crucial services and give Ambulance Service staff the support they need to improve response times.”