McArthur renews call for Orkney-based air ambulance

24 Feb 2023

As the procurement of a new contract for the national air ambulance service gets underway, Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has renewed his call for a locally based air ambulance for Orkney

The Scottish Ambulance Service currently operate two fixed wing aircraft based at Aberdeen Airport and Glasgow Airport, along with two helicopters based in Glasgow and Inverness. In recent years, SAS has also been able to incorporate the use of Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) helicopters based at Perth Airport and in Aberdeen.

While the additional capacity created by the inclusion of the SCAA aircraft has been very welcome and proved to be a genuine ‘lifesaver’, Mr McArthur believes the re-tendering of the air ambulance contract presents an opportunity to look again at providing increased and improved cover for communities across the far north of Scotland and the islands.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"The air ambulance service is a genuine lifeline for communities across the country. For rural and island communities, in particular, the ability to shorten response times and enhance patient care and treatment in time-critical emergencies can be the difference between life and death.

"In that sense, it has been encouraging to see how much of an impact the inclusion of SCAA aircraft within the SAS fleet has made. The additional helicopter based at Aberdeen since 2019 has made a real difference and I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding generosity of the public who made this possible.

"However, it is now more apparent than ever that the missing piece in the jigsaw is the lack of any aircraft based in the far north or the islands. Indeed, the case for a locally based air ambulance in Orkney has only been strengthened recently due to concerns around the provision of primary care in some of the smaller isles.

"As the re-tendering exercise for the service gets underway, I believe the time is right to consider how the future service could be enhanced through basing an additional helicopter at Kirkwall airport. I'm confident that there is the infrastructure to support this and such a move would be embraced by the local community.

"I will be making this case to SAS, SCAA and to Scottish Ministers over the months ahead in the hope that this gap in provision can finally be filled."