PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE in talks over provision of Ambulances in Moray following recent emergencies where crews have had to be called from outside their operational area.
Richard Lochhead MSP took up the case after learning that the ambulance tasked with attending the accident from which Moray teenager Keiran McKandie died in March took 27 minutes to arrive at the scene.
That was around four times the expected time taken to get an emergency crew on the scene, with the delay caused by no local ambulance being available leading to one on its way back to Tomintoul having to be redirected.
Yesterday Mr Lochhead met with NHS Grampian Chief Executive Malcolm Wright to relay his concerns and those of Keiran’s family as well as the wider provision of the Ambulance Service in Moray.
Following the meeting, Mr Lochhead said: “I welcome the commitment by NHS Grampian’s Chief Executive to meet his counterpart in the Scottish Ambulance Service to discuss our overstretched ambulance provision in Moray, and how the two organisations can work together to address the issues causing significant concerns locally.
“If Moray based A&E ambulances are being increasingly tasked for work outwith Moray – and as a result ambulances from stations in Nairn or Huntly, for instance, are required to deal with incidents in Moray, then it’s no wonder there is a knock on impact for response times.
“Ambulances and their crews from Elgin, Forres or elsewhere in Moray are often tied up with patient transfers to Aberdeen or Inverness, which can take up most of the day and that means they are not available for calls in Moray.”
The MSP added that he fully appreciated hospital transfer were an integral part of day to day operations – but a lot of the time other vehicles should be carrying out such work and not A&E Ambulances and crews.
He added: “This needs to be investigated otherwise our A&E ambulances will be acting as taxis rather than dealing with emergencies in Moray.
“I have also asked for turnaround times at Dr Gray’s to be investigated as an ambulance waiting for a long time to hand over patients in A&E is not available to answer emergency calls. I understand a previous system is place was more efficient – again, this needs looked at.”
Mr Lochhead will next week be meeting the Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, Pauline Howie, when she will visit Elgin. At that meeting they will discuss what action can be taken to ensure Moray has adequate ambulance resources and that they are used as efficiently as possible.
Mr Lochhead added: “At my recent meeting with Health Secretary Shona Robison I also raised such concerns and she is also taking a close interest.
“With NHS Grampian, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Government firstly recognising there is an urgent issue in Moray and then agreeing to sort it out, I am confident that we can secure appropriate action to protect the interests of staff and the public who want to know that if there is an emergency then there is a local ambulance available to respond in good time.
“Our ambulance staff who often work in very difficult circumstances are dedicated and professional but they need the resources to respond as quickly as possible to incidents and help save lives.”