Covid Scotland: Scots waited up to 21 hours for ambulance during first Omicron wave

Scots waited up to 21 hours for an ambulance during the first wave of Omicron, new figures reveal.
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesPhoto by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The longest waiting time for an ambulance in January was 20 hours and 40 minutes for the least urgent category of call, while for the most urgent, which includes suspected heart attacks and has an aimed response time within eight minutes, the longest wait was 53 minutes.

Figures released by the SAS show the longest waiting times have increased over the course of the pandemic, from eight and a half hours in January 2020 to 17 hours in January 2021 and 20 hours and 40 minutes in January 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Turnaround times, or the amount of time ambulances have been forced to wait at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, have also increased, with a wait of 14 hours recorded in December.

Read More
Buffer zones Scotland: 76 doctors back action over anti-abortion protests as 'wo...

A spokesperson for the SAS said median wait times for purple calls are currently just over seven minutes, and that longer waits for this most urgent category are usually due to the patient being initially categorised as a less serious case.

“Hospital turnaround times continue to be a significant challenge across Scotland and are restricting the ability of our staff to get back out to help other patients,” they said.

They added: “We apologise to anyone who is having to wait longer than we would wish."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it is “fully committed to ensuring the Scottish Ambulance Service has the resources and skilled staff in place to continue to deliver a high quality emergency health service”, and added that the most serious patients will always be prioritised.

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.