Room for improvement on ambulance calls

East Lothian Scottish Parliament Candidate, Rachael Hamilton, calls on the Scottish Ambulance Service to look closely at resources and priorities in East Lothian.

The following was reported in this week's East Lothian Courier:

"Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show that only 48 per cent of life-threatening (category A) incidents are responded to within the eight-minute target in East Lothian.  Seventy-four per cent of Category B incidents, which are classed as serious but not life-threatening, are responded to within the target time of 19 minutes, and 85 per cent of Category C, which may not require an emergency ambulance crew, are dealt with within an hour.

"Rachael Hamilton, the party's East Lothian candidate, said: "These figures are very concerning and show that in more than half of cases, ambulances are failing to respond quickly to life-threatening incidents.

"In a more rural area like East Lothian, it is always going to be challenging to get ambulances to remote areas within the target time.  But these figures show that there is a lot of room for improvement and residents will rightly be troubled by them.

"We need to look closely at whether the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is being properly resourced in East Lothian.

"A spokesman for the service said: "Managing ambulance cover is a very dynamic process as resources are moved around East Lothian, depending on demand patterns.  The region is covered from ambulances based in Haddington, Prestonpans and Dalkeith, which are also tactically deployed at certain times to fire stations in Musselburgh and East Linton to spread cover.

"We are developing plans for additional ambulance resources in East Lothian to meet expected demand levels and our teams are fully engaged with local partners around planning new housing developments.

"While response times are an important aspect of pre-hospital care and fluctuate throughout the year, it is the clinical expertise of ambulance teams that is key to good patient outcomes and saving lives.

"This is reflected in the record increase in resuscitation rates achieved in the last year.  Response times are monitored on an ongoing basis and are affected throughout the year by a number of factors, including peaks in demand, extreme weather and road closures, as well as turnaround times at hospitals.

"Last year the average response time in the Lothians for a potentially life-threatening call was about 6.5 minutes and about 9.8 minutes for all 999 calls."