Record recruitment to Scottish ambulance service ahead of ‘challenging’ winter

A record number of people have been recruited to the ambulance service ahead of what the Health Secretary has warned will be one of the “most challenging” winters Scotland’s NHS has ever faced.

The Scottish Ambulance Service recruited 540 paramedics, ambulance drivers, call handlers, and clinicians in 2021/22 which the Scottish Government said was a record high.

The Scottish Government said that this is driven by a £45 million funding boost announced as part of last week’s NHS winter resilience plan, which aims to ensure the NHS is working as efficiently as possible.

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It said the increase in staff numbers is already having a tangible impact on response times – with 99% of all serious incidents, such as heart attacks, being dealt with in under 30 minutes.

Health Secretary Humza YousafHealth Secretary Humza Yousaf
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This winter will be one of the most challenging our NHS has ever faced, and we need to make sure people are getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

“We are determined to equip the Scottish Ambulance Service with the resources and staff to continue to deliver a high-quality emergency service to the people of Scotland.

“Ambulance staff have shown remarkable resilience in the face of sustained pressure on services and I would like to thank them for their continued commitment and hard work.”

Mr Yousaf is visiting an ambulance station in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Of the 540 new Scottish Ambulance Service staff, 296 were funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Service’s Demand and Capacity Programme which aims to deliver the best possible care for patients and protect staff welfare.

Pauline Howie, Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive, said: “The last 12 months have been the busiest ever in terms of recruitment for the Service and this funding announcement is great news as we continue to experience unprecedented pressures on our services alongside the entire NHS.

“With the increased demand for our services, it’s vital we boost our capacity and resilience by introducing extra resources and staffing.

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“These new staff will complement our existing staff who have done an amazing job before and right throughout the pandemic, providing the very best patient care to communities across the country.”

Shannen McLoughlin is a newly qualified paramedic who has graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and started with the Scottish Ambulance Service in October 2021.

She said: “I absolutely love my job and have already been fortunate enough to have worked with a number of fantastic paramedics.

“I found this really benefited my practice and allowed me to get to grips with the transitional role from a student paramedic to a newly qualified paramedic.

“There is such a wide variety of jobs on a shift, there really is never a dull moment and that is why I am so glad I chose to become a paramedic in Edinburgh.”