Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has welcomed new measures that will provide additional capacity for airlifting island patients with Covid-19 to receive immediate healthcare.
In a parliamentary answer today (Wednesday), the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, announced a number of actions to increase air ambulance capacity for island communities, including the provision of two additional twin otter aircraft by Loganair.
Concerns had been raised with Mr McArthur by island clinicians about how anticipated needs might be met over the coming weeks and months. This led Orkney’s MSP to hold discussions with both the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and Loganair last week about their plans for using Loganair aircraft to help augment the existing SAS provision available.
Welcoming confirmation of the new arrangements, Mr McArthur commented:
“The Covid-19 outbreak is putting unprecedented pressure on our healthcare and emergency services. In our island communities, there are additional challenges in terms of transferring patients in need of specialist treatment, particularly those in vulnerable groups who require urgent assistance.
“Following concerns raised with me by island clinicians, I held discussions with both SAS and Loganair last week to find out what steps were being taken to expand the capacity of air ambulance provision. It was encouraging to hear the progress that had already been made at that stage, and I am pleased that the Health Secretary has now confirmed the new arrangements now in place.
“Making use of Loganair aircraft in this way makes perfect sense, given the crisis we face and the collapse in air travel. Indeed, I would encourage both SAS and Loganair to continue exploring other opportunities to develop this relationship and increase capacity, if necessary.
“In the meantime, I congratulate both SAS and Loganair on reaching this agreement, and thank the Scottish Government for recognising the distinct challenges faced by our island communities during this crisis and facilitating this practical and timely response”.