'Lives at risk' as third of most urgent Scottish ambulance calls not attended within 10 minutes

Scottish Labour has warned “lives are being risked” as new figures show an increase to ambulance waiting times.

The proportion of the most urgent calls which are responded to within ten minutes has fallen to 71 per cent in 2020/21, a 10-point drop on the figure from 2018/19.

These calls, coded by the Scottish Ambulance Service as “purple”, are the most urgent category, where a patient is identified as having a 10 per cent or more change of cardiac arrest.

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Some 28 per cent of these calls were answered in ten to 30 minutes, while 125 calls took between 30 minutes and an hour.

Picture: John Devlin.

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Six urgent calls took over an hour to respond to.

Across all 999 ambulance calls in 2020/21, just over 29 per cent were responded to in under ten minutes, while 46 per cent were reached in under half an hour.

A total of 17,697 calls, just under 4 per cent of the total, took over two hours to respond to.

Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie labelled the figures “horrific”.

She said: “It’s clear that ambulance waiting times are on the rise and that lives are being risked as a result.

“The reports of waits lasting for many hours are horrific and the statistics clearly show that they are not isolated incidents.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot have the Scottish Government’s failure to support the NHS putting lives at risk.

“Humza Yousaf must act now to support ambulance services or lives will be lost.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the ambulance service was under “significant pressure” last year as a result of the pandemic.

"Despite these challenges and serving some of the most rural areas in the UK, in 2020/21 our crews responded to over 70 per cent of highest priority calls in under ten minutes and more than 99 per cent in under 30 minutes,” the spokesperson said.

“The ambulance service is carrying out a national review of demand and capacity to ensure it has the resources in place to meet current and projected future demand. This review resulted in an additional £10.5 million funding announced last year and further investment is planned this year."

The Scottish Ambulance service was contacted for comment.

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