Emergency ambulance calls diverted to England after covid outbreak at Scottish call centre

Emergency calls for an ambulance in Scotland were diverted to England over the weekend following a Covid-19 outbreak at a Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) call centre in Glasgow.

Picture: John Devlin.

The SAS said a small number of staff at the Cardonald call centre in Glasgow had tested positive, requiring other staff members to self-isolate.

It is understood that staff at five ambulance call centres in England stepped in to handle some of the workload after a call for help from the SAS.

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The service said “well-established” risk and resilience plans are in place for such occasions.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanked staff from other parts of the UK who “stepped up” to help in his Covid-19 daily briefing on Monday, saying it demonstrated the strength of the union.

He said: "Our health systems across the UK routinely work closely together, offering support when it's needed and, from vaccines to ambulance services, we are stronger together. And the UK is stronger together in the fight against this pandemic.”

Mr Hancock added: “It means an awful lot to me and my English UK colleagues, in the UK government, that we are one union that can pull together when things get difficult.”

The SNP lambasted Mr Hancock for using the Covid-19 press conference to criticise the union.

A spokesperson said: “Covid briefings should be for important public health information only and overtly political statements very much risk diluting the strength of these crucial health messages.”

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said the arrangement between the SAS and other nations is “well-established”.

"There are well-established resilience procedures across the UK between the four nations when any one of the ambulance services come under particular pressure with the call volume that they are experiencing, with those calls diverting for a period or a short time to other agencies who can then pick it up,” he said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “A small number of our staff in the west of Scotland are isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 and other members of staff are selfisolating due to test and protect.

“Well-established risk and resilience plans are in place for such occurrences and a percentage of calls were proactively managed through other UK ambulance services over the weekend, in line with our pandemic planning.”

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