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HomeUK NewsMilitary to be brought in to help Scottish ambulance crews

Military to be brought in to help Scottish ambulance crews

The Scottish government is drawing up the request for “targeted military assistance” for the nation’s ambulance service

Nicola Sturgeon said that health services were dealing with the most challenging combination of circumstances in their history as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opposition politicians in the country have highlighted a series of serious ambulance delays in Scotland, including a man’s death after a 40-hour wait.

They said that this should not be happening in Scotland in the year 2021.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that her government was looking at a range of plans in order to deal with the significant challenges that are facing the health services, with the detail of a request for military assistance to be considered.

She said to the Scottish Parliament: “I’ll be going back to my office to finalise the detail of the request for military assistance so we can submit that as quickly as possible.”

The first minister added: “Such military assistance is already being provided to ambulance services in England and of course we have had military assistance for other aspects of the pandemic over the past 18 months.”

This comes after the first Covid booster vaccines have been given to NHS staff in England and Wales as part of plans to extend protection for millions this winter. Covid booster shots will be offered to the over 50s, healthcare workers, and younger adults with certain health conditions.

Investigations are currently ongoing into several cases reported in the media on Thursday, including one where a pensioner from Glasgow died following a 40-hour wait for an ambulance.

The Herald newspaper has reported that the family of 65-year-old Gerard Brown were told that he could have survived if help had arrived sooner.

The Scottish Ambulance Service is investigating the circumstances of the case, and said it will be “in contact with Mr Brown’s family directly to apologise for the delay”.

Mr Brown’s death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, who said an investigation was “ongoing”.

Pressed on the case at her weekly question session at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon offered her condolences to Mr Brown’s family, and said what had been reported was “unacceptable”.

She said Scotland was “experiencing probably the most challenging combination of circumstances that our health service has faced since its establishment” due to the pandemic.

The head of the Scottish Ambulance Service has previously apologised to patients over increased waiting times, saying staff were working under “unprecedented pressure” due to a “huge increase” in both Covid and non-Covid cases.

Pauline Howie said the service was “at full capacity” and hospitals were too, meaning it takes longer to hand over patients at emergency departments – creating delays in responding to other calls.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said that the ambulance service was “in crisis”, and said that cases like that of Mr Brown “shouldn’t be happening in Scotland in 2021”.

He also called for Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to withdraw the comments that he made on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday, when he said that people should “think twice” about whether or not they really needed an ambulance before they call for one.

This comes after Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum by the end of 2023, at a time when it’s hoped the coronavirus pandemic is “under control”, and wants to adopt an approach of “co-operation not confrontation”.

Ms Sturgeon said that the nation’s ambulance service was already “operating at its highest level of escalation” in response to current pressures, and said Mr Yousaf’s comments reflected others made by services “in every part of the UK”.

Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised the same case, describing it as an “avoidable human tragedy”.

He said Ms Sturgeon should not use the pandemic as an excuse, adding: “There is a simple truth – nobody should be left to die on the floor while waiting 40 hours for an ambulance.”

Ms Sturgeon said that governments across the world had been dealing with similar problems at the moment and that her administration was “absolutely focused” on providing solutions.

Meanwhile, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton called for the military assistance to be deployed swiftly, saying the government had “done too little, too late”.

Eve Cooper
Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job :)

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