Eight years on sees Nicola Sturgeon’s promise to stop single crewed ambulances as the sham it was

Almost eight years ago, on 4th June 2008 – then SNP Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, gave the Scottish Ambulance Service one month to present plans to end the single crewing of its ambulances.

She took this action in response to internal concerns about the service’s use of this practice; and because there were political allegations that the practice of single crewing was born of budget cuts to the service.

Back then, Ms Stugeon said: ‘I have made it clear to the Scottish Ambulance Service that it must take action to eliminate rostered single-manning’, telling the chamber at Holyrood that the service was also being asked to look at the use of rapid response vehicles which were designed for single paramedic crews.

Ms Baillie used Freedom of Information legislation to discover the true scale of the problem in 2016  – after hearing repeated concerns from local medical professionals and patients.

The figures show that since 2013 more than 230 ambulances dispatched from the Arrochar, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh stations, two of which are in Argyll, were staffed by only one person.

Moreover, the practice appears to be becoming established.

The figures for 2015-16 have only been released for the first half the year but already the total number of single-crewed responses is higher than the figures for the entire year in 2014-15. There were 79 incidents when a local ambulance was dispatched with only one crew member in the first six months of 2015-16, compared to 76 for the whole of 2014-15.

On that occasion on 4th June 2008, Ms Sturgeon declared: ‘The policy of the Scottish Government is clear – traditional accident and emergency ambulances should be double crewed, with at least one member being a paramedic, unless in exceptional circumstances.

‘In too many practices, particularly in the Highlands, practice is not living up to that policy. That is not a new situation but it has to be addressed.’

We remain unaware of any announcement that the Scottish Government policy on this has changed. So why is it happening – and on the clearly sleep-ridden watch of Shona Robison, the hapless current Health Secretary but friend of Nicola promoted to Cabinet rank to improve the gender balance?

Yet here we are, in 2016, with the Scottish Labour politician the SNP most fear, former Health Spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, revealing that new figures show that the single-staffing of local ambulances is still widespread – despite that eight year old Sturgeon promise to ‘eliminate’ the practice

Jackie Baillie says: ‘ Sending ambulances out from the stations in Alexandria, Helensburgh and Arrochar with only one crew member increases the pressure on our dedicated local staff and puts patients’ lives at risk.

‘How can it be possible for one member of staff to provide life-saving care to patients and drive an ambulance across the Erskine Bridge at the same time?

‘Nicola Sturgeon made a very clear promise that single-crewed ambulances would be a thing of the past by 2009.

‘It’s now 8 years on since she made that commitment and these figures show that the problem is actually getting worse here in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond.

‘The SNP Health Secretary [Shona Robison] was made aware of staffing problems with our local ambulance services last summer when she met with a group of health campaigners at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

‘It’s time for the SNP finally to get a grip of the situation and ensure that our hard-working local staff get the resources they need.’

Perhaps the solo paramedics are heaving coronary casualties up into the font passenger seat and are whacking their chests twice a second with their left hand as they drive with the right one?

This situation beggars the imagination.

We note that Ms Sturgeon remained as Health Secretary until 5th September 2012, so this practice – to be ended by 2009 but continuing and worsening today. is a failure to be laid solidly at MS Sturgeon’s own door. She didn’t see that order through, Perhaps she would like to explain why?

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Aha, another SNP Baad story. Jackie Baillie says this, Jackie Baillie say that. Like a cracked gramaphone record stuck in a rut, Jackie Baillie’s carping never ends. It goes on and on. That’s what she does. But folks remember what Jackie and. Her government did when they were in power, and they have not forgotten. And come May, Jackie will learn of what the electorate think when she loses the seat she has held since the recommencement of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 22

    willie March 9, 2016 5:45 am Reply
    • How many defibs, ambulances, air ambulances etc could be paid for by 1 nuclear bomb Ms Baillie? Ask you tory pals who you support.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

      No Cheese Here March 9, 2016 2:30 pm Reply
      • Well said,my cheese less friend!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

        Hugh Jazz March 9, 2016 3:35 pm Reply
  • And yes Newsroom and it’s not the SNP who fear health spokesperson Jackie Baillie but the people who remember her tragic policy of privatising hospital cleaning and hygene control. And yes this is the very same woman, from the very same party, who is still in favour of NHS privatisation, who says that private firms should have a bigger role to play. And the same woman who supports the introduction of GP consultation fees, the reintroduction of prescription charges, and the reintroduction of hospital car parking charges. Like Alisdair Darling who worked for a large healthcare business whilst in office, it’s not difficult to see the true affiliations of folks like Jackie. But here’s the deal. The SNP ended privatised hospital cleaning and hygene control. They ended prescription charges. The ended privatised parking charges and they have no intention of introducing GP consultation charges. Now, that I think is SNP not bad and most folk I think agree. Wee Nic’s on the right track!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 20

    willie March 9, 2016 6:06 am Reply
  • Is the sole response a paramedic in a car / van / ambulance or are they doing the fast response with a double crewed ambulance?

    With a heart attach, a paramedic in a small van with oxygen and defibrillator is probably of more use than a double crewed vehicle quarter of an hour or so later. Outside the big towns and cities, most ambulance crews work from home in the evening and overnight so have to pick up the second crew member from somewhere. You still often see the ambulance and fire arriving before the police!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Lundavra March 9, 2016 8:09 am Reply
    • Because we’re a good 30 minutes from any ambulance, single-manned or otherwise, and then 50 minutes ride to the nearest A&E the Rosneath peninsula now has a band of enthusiastic volunteer first responders and a growing list of defibrillators; several people are alive today because this equipment was available almost immediately rather than in half an hour.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      db March 9, 2016 2:22 pm Reply
  • Absolutely accurate observations Lundanvara which exposes the shrill and ill considered cheapshot nonsesense spouted by folks like Jackie Baillie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

    willie March 9, 2016 8:39 am Reply
  • An ex-police friend told that many years ago they tried an experiment in his area where the ambulance would turn out single-crewed to an accident and a police officer would drive it to the hospital whilst the ambulance man stayed in the back with the casualty.

    Would not work now with the police perhaps not turning up for a few days!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    Lundavra March 9, 2016 10:17 am Reply
  • For the past 10 months,the SCOTTISH NHS,is THE BEST PERFORMING NHS in the Ukok.
    Well done Shona Robinson.
    Keep beating up the Scottish NHS staff Baillie.
    They are coming to the SNP in their droves!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

    Hugh Jazz March 9, 2016 3:33 pm Reply
    • Come on you trolls no comments on the 15 billion deficit I would have thought you would have been telling us how good it was for the country. Next year it is forecast to be even worse but hey ho if you get your way we can all live in la la land. I see the headline in the National does not mention the deficit strange that

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      Plugit March 10, 2016 8:37 am Reply
    • HJ.
      You are such a well informed SNP supporter that you cannot even get the Scottish Health secretary’s surname correct. Her married name is Mrs Shona Hosie.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Treble T March 10, 2016 6:22 pm Reply
  • I am currently in India where all emergency ambulances I have seen carry 2 members of staff. In my opinion, if only 1 member of staff is used, it cannot be possible for it to be an emergency situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Spock March 9, 2016 4:25 pm Reply
    • Are they fully qualified paramedics?

      In many rural areas it is just not feasible to have double (full paramedic) crewed ambulances on standby 24/7 everywhere when they might only be called out occasionally.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

      Lundavra March 9, 2016 4:33 pm Reply
  • And to move things on, I see that the SNP have just brought down the Tory Governments proposals for Sunday opening by voting en mass against the government who were defeated in a Commons vote. Standing up for Scotland, this shows just how the SNP will protect Scottish Interest. Well done the Westminster group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

    willie March 9, 2016 7:02 pm Reply
    • I see that demented friend of yours is going to Trinidad soon. Do you know that’s where we used to send errant Scots to work as slaves on plantations.
      Maybe our Majesties Government will engage that pastime again,as the SNP voted against the will of England.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      R.B Stoker March 9, 2016 7:14 pm Reply
    • Despicable behaviour in my opinion and very short sighted unless of course the plan is to upset the Tories and make future negotiations difficult. Thus allowing you to blame Westminster for any failures.

      By the way did you enjoy the news that if inderef had been carried then Scotland would now be £15 billion in the red – even more than most of us thought.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      JimB March 9, 2016 11:06 pm Reply
  • Absolutely breathtaking hypocrisy by the entire SNP cohort at Westminster.
    Makes me ashamed to be Scottish

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    Proudest Scot in the UK March 9, 2016 11:38 pm Reply
    • All they’ve managed to do is get a load of organisations to question why Scots should have to work these hours on sundays when the rUK don’t.
      I’m sure they will have an answer for the people who find themselves out of a job or on reduced hours.
      Giving the Chancellor a bloody nose may well cost us dearly, the stupidity of it all is that this piece of legislation was never in the Tory manifesto, Home Goal comes to mind.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      richard March 10, 2016 12:05 pm Reply
  • The chirality of the enantiomers Scovscol and Evel does make me smile. A dose of their own medicine if I may opine. But to use Dad’s Army language…they don’t like it up em. Have a nice day y’all!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    willie March 10, 2016 9:01 am Reply
    • My dear Willie.I must highlight my admiration regarding your unstinting support
      For your beliefs,which in this case happens to be Scottish Sovereignty.
      Now,I want to explain to you in plain English why your want shall never come to pass.
      The English Conservative Government rely on Scottish exports to keep the UK balance of payments in check.Now,a fact often overlooked is English companies own these wealth producers in Scotland.The English being the only ones on these Islands to run these businesses efficiently.
      Do you really think we English will give up our rights in Scotland to hand our hardwork to the ragtag and bob tails that inhabit the North of Britain?
      Now,be a good lad,know your place and get back in line.You’ll be far off in the long term.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      R.B Stoker March 10, 2016 2:32 pm Reply

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