View Full Version : Caithness ambulance concern

14-Jan-16, 10:08
Service stressed due to increased hospital transfers

The Scottish Ambulance Service has admitted there has been nearly a 25 per cent increase in inter-hospital transfers from Caithness General Hospital over the past three years.
The service was responding to questions from Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant regarding the community’s concern over pressure on ambulance staff and resources in the region.
Scottish Ambulance Service Chief Executive Pauline Howie said that since 2011/2012 there has been a “notable increase” in such transfers, including those carried out by air.
There has been a 24.5per cent increase in inter-hospital transfers - a total of 106 cases - from 2012 to 2015. In 2012/13 there were 431 transfers, in 2013/14, 496 and 2014/15, 537.
In regards to maternity transfers since Caithness General made a change to its provision, there have been eight women required to go south to either Inverness or Aberdeen from 18th November until 14th December last year. As the change is new, the service says it is still monitoring the situation.
“There is obviously a strain on the ambulance service in Caithness year on year and these figures prove it is a growing problem, added to by a number of pregnant women now having to travel south for treatment,” said Mrs Grant.
“It won’t take much for something to give in the region. The public are right to question the resources as they appear to be stretched to the limit. People are right to be worried.”
“There is to be a meeting with NHS Highland early this year to discuss the impact of its changes on patients in Caithness and Sutherland and the knock-on effect on ambulance resources. However, I am worried that the health authority will not be able to help out with its tight budget.”
Mrs Grant also wrote to Health Minister Shona Robison on the ambulance issue, but Ms Robison said it was one for the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Highland to solve as the NHS board was responsible for the design, delivery and management of its NHS services. Ms Robison did add that she had asked her officials to contact the ambulance service to provide background details for the MSP.
“I would have thought this is a serious enough issue for the Minister to look into,” added Mrs Grant.
“It is rather disappointing she has left it to two health services to find a solution.”
Mrs Grant is now writing to NHS Highland to find out details of the meeting and what decisions are being taken to guarantee a safe ambulance service in the area.
Scottish Ambulance Service has detailed current staffing levels across Caithness:

One ambulance operating 24/7 with eight hour shifts, seven days per week. Three days a week staff work a shift, plus they are on call for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 0000-0800
Another ambulance operates 09.45-1800 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday


One ambulance operating 24/7 with 12 hour shifts, seven days per week. Three days a week staff work a shift, plus they are on call Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1900 – 0700
Another ambulance operates 0800-1700 Monday and Tuesday