Covid Scotland: Average time ambulances wait at A&E almost doubles since 2014

The average time ambulances spend waiting to offload patients at accident-and-emergency (A&E) departments in Scotland has almost doubled since 2014, while at least one vehicle has been kept waiting for more than nine hours, new figures reveal.

The average turnaround time at hospital has increased from 23 minutes in 2014 to 40 minutes so far this year, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Labour party via a Freedom of Information request.

This is the length of time from an ambulance arriving at hospital to being declared ready for use again, including the time spent waiting to hand over a patient, waiting for the return of equipment and cleaning the vehicle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One in ten ambulances are now waiting over an hour at hospital (64 minutes), while the longest wait on record so far this year is nine hours and 19 minutes.

Picture: John Devlin.Picture: John Devlin.
Picture: John Devlin.

This is double the longest turnaround time in 2014, at four hours 27 minutes, but not the longest on record, which is 11 hours and 17 minutes in 2018.

It comes after weeks of record poor performance in waiting times at A&E, which can affect the flow of ambulance handovers.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the figures were “spiralling out of control”.

Read More
FMQs: Patients at risk over long waits at A&E, Nicola Sturgeon concedes

“Ambulance turnaround times are now at unacceptable levels and we know that lives are being put at risk," she said.

She added: “Our NHS is in crisis, but the health secretary is missing in action and the First Minister is in denial – the people of Scotland deserve so much better than this.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “Lengthy ambulance turnaround times at hospitals, due to emergency departments being at near or full capacity, continue to be a major issue.”

They added: “We are working closely with health boards across Scotland to try and minimise these.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said in 2020/21 ambulances responded to over 70 per cent of the highest priority calls in under 10 mins and over 99 per cent in under 30 mins.

“Our ambulance service continues to focus on improved outcomes for patients and recent figures show that 30 day survival rates for our the sickest patients are at their highest rate ever,” they said.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.