Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has maintained pressure on Ministers to commit recently announced funding to improve land ambulance capacity in Orkney.
The Scottish Government has announced additional funding of up to £11 million for the Scottish Ambulance Service to help improve capacity, which includes the provision of 24 extra vehicles.
Mr McArthur has therefore written to the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman to seek assurances that “at least some of this additional funding will find its way to Orkney to help provide much-needed additional capacity.”
This follows a parliamentary debate last week, led by Mr McArthur, during which he again highlighted the lack of staffing to allow adequate land ambulance provision in Orkney. Mr McArthur stressed the serious demand this is placing on existing ambulance crews as well as out of hours GPs, called to provide cover while the only land ambulance is attending another incident.
Mr McArthur commented:
“I’m pleased the Scottish Government has recognised the pressures that emergency responders across the country face this winter and is making additional funding available to meet increasing demand. It is vitally important, however, that this support makes its way beyond the central belt.
“For some time now, the entire Orkney mainland and linked south isles have been covered by a single land ambulance. This is clearly not adequate and puts enormous strain on local ambulance crews as well as out of hours GPs. It also increases the risk to patients.
“I have repeatedly said that this situation is neither acceptable nor sustainable. With the additional funding now available, it’s time to put this right. Ministers and SAS must ensure that staffing levels in Orkney are more in line with need and what is in place in other parts of the country, including other island communities.
“I welcome the recognition by Pauline Howie, CEO of the Scottish Ambulance Service, of the need for rural areas to be well-supported from this funding. I have written to Ms Howie and the Health Secretary seeking assurances that Orkney will indeed be well-supported”.