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by Andrew Learmonth
21 September 2021
Military will be 'little or no help' to ambulance service, warns union boss

Military will be 'little or no help' to ambulance service, warns union boss

The military will be 'little or no help' in alleviating the crisis engulfing the Scottish ambulance service, the trade union Unite has warned. 

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is due to update MSPs on the help being offered by the MoD.

It’s thought that 110 soldiers will take over Covid testing, while 90 drivers will be involved in non-blue light ambulance driving.

Jimmy McNamee, Unite the union's convener for the Scottish ambulance service, said that wouldn’t be enough.

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: “We'll welcome those individuals, we'll thank them for their assistance but the assistance being provided is one where they will be driving vehicles without the ability to emergency respond, and nor will they have any clinical skills to bring to the organisation. 

“Whilst we’ll welcome them on board, they'll be little or no help to the Scottish ambulance service and our emergency care provision.”

The NHS is under intense pressure at the moment, with one senior doctor claiming the crisis delays had Scotland’s left A&Es “unsafe.”

John Thomson, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said part of the problem was caused by too few beds.

He told the BBC: "We have patients who are waiting in emergency departments who should be receiving the next stage of their care elsewhere in the system.

"The college estimates that we're approximately 1,000 beds short nationally and that would certainly help alleviate some of the issues relating to what we call exit block, which are patients waiting to move from the emergency department when they no longer require care within the department.

"Emergency departments can be very busy and function very smoothly when we have no exit block. Conversely when we've seen significant exit block, and long wait for patients to move to beds, then we can have relatively few patients in A&E and struggle to provide the right level of care that we would want to."

Thomson said increasing the number of beds would go "a long way to alleviating that problem".

Meanwhile, the Scotsman revealed that the number of less-urgent ambulance calls waiting more than 12 hours for a response increased 20 times in the past year.

Figures obtained by the paper show 297 patient calls in the least urgent or “yellow” category waited at least 12 hours for an ambulance between August 2020 and July this year, compared to 15 the previous year.

Some 56 patients waited more than 16 hours, compared to just one the year before.

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Time is right to reform Scotland's exams, says education minister

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