NHS Grampian chief to be quizzed on ambulance response times

Pressure increasing on NHS Grampian over ambulance response times in Moray.
Pressure increasing on NHS Grampian over ambulance response times in Moray.

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of NHS Grampian will be quizzed today over why it took paramedics almost half an hour to reach teenage cyclist Keiran McKandie when he was struck by a car on March 20.

Keiran tragically died in the accident on the B9010 near Craigend – now his parents are calling for an investigation into why it took almost four times the regional average for an ambulance crew to reach their son.

Gordon and Sandra McKandie last week met with Health Secretary Shona Robison, who said that she would raise her concerns with the Scottish Ambulance Service. That meeting was arranged by Richard Lochhead MSP – who will today meet with NHS Grampian chief Malcolm Wright in Elgin and demand answers to the questions posed by the family.

“One important issue I intend to raise relates to emergency ambulance cover,” Mr Lochhead said ahead of his meeting, adding: “While many points are for the Scottish Ambulance Service to answer, which I will raise with the Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service when we meet next week, there are aspects of emergency ambulance cover that are influenced by policy at Dr Gray’s.

“An example of this is that ambulance staff cannot handover patients at Dr Gray’s until they have been received by a medical professional at the hospital.

“While the paramedics are waiting at Dr Gray’s they are not available to respond to emergency calls and it is therefore crucial that such handovers are swift and efficient.”

The MSP will also highlight vital emergency ambulance resources being used for transporting patients to other hospitals – in particular on the three to four hour round trip from Elgin to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, despite these journeys being neither urgent or requiring the medical assistance of an ambulance crew.

He added: “It is important that precious resources are used appropriately and I want to know if it is indeed the case that there are times when accident and emergency vehicles and their crews are being used as a taxi service.

“This seems a very inefficient use of resources which can leave ambulance cover in Moray badly lacking. I intend to urge the Chief Executive to take any steps he can to resolve these matters.”

Concerns were first raised in April over the time taken for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of 16-year-old Keiran’s accident. The ambulance that arrived had been re-directed from when heading towards its Tomintoul base and took 27 minutes to arrive at the scene – four times longer than the average for NHS Grampian.

On the same day a Lossiemouth man, William Rodden, died when he fell from a wall in the town – ambulances from Nairn and Buckie were called to the scene, the Buckie unit arriving 16 minutes after the call was logged.

At the time a spokesman for Scottish Ambulance said that in both instances local crews in Elgin had been “dealing with other incidents”.