“Dangerous” ambulance changes stalled as plans to reduce crew numbers is halted

Planned cuts to overnight ambulance provision in Paisley have been shelved, it is claimed, after the Express highlighted the issue.

We told in January how unrest was brewing amongst staff over “dangerous” Scottish Ambulance Service plans to cut the number of crews posted in Paisley.

It came in the wake of the Demand and Capacity Review, carried out by a private contractor on behalf of the SAS, which led to proposals to cut three crews covering overnight between 10pm and 6am on weekdays.

They planned to leave two crews on duty between the periods.

Currently three Paisley-based crews are operational between 7pm and 7am.

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The plans were blasted by an SAS insider who told the Express: “The SAS are reducing this to two ambulances at night and increasing cover during the day.

“A cardiac arrest is responded to by two ambulance crews, a road traffic collision is normally attended by two crews plus obese patients, difficult extractions etc. often require two ambulance crews to convey patient from home into an ambulance.”

The whistleblower also branded the move a “dangerous reduction”.

But the plans now look to have been shelved, says the insider: “It now appears the management have finally seen sense and have agreed that we are no longer loosing an ambulance during night hours in Paisley and there is a review of Vale of Leven cover proposals also.

“If you had not highlighted these proposed cuts I am sure the management would have gone ahead with these proposals as they had not acted or listened to our concerns.”

Crews in the Vale of Leven also faced being cut overnight on weekdays. Patients there suffering serious illness or injury must be conveyed out with the area to hospitals including Paisley’s Royal Alexandra, but these moves are now also being re-examined says the insider.

We also revealed how figures uncovered by a Freedom of Information request for the period between October 1 last year and January 31 this year showed that an ambulance crew had been detained for almost 11 hours waiting to hand over a patient at Paisley’s hard-pressed Royal Alexandra Hospital.

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Wait times at accident and emergency departments have also once again rocketed after the new omicron sub-variant BA.2 sparked a rise in covid cases.

Health boards including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde asked would-be patients to avoid A&E departments unless their condition was life-threatening again last month as they admitted hospitals were once again under-pressure.

The fact has not gone unnoticed by the SAS insider, who added: “Paisley as are no longer loosing a nightshift Double Crewed Ambulance(DCA) there are several new shift options being proposed by the Demand and Capacity team.

“It seems the Demand and Capacity review is stalled at the moment. Waiting times at hospital are again on increase with Ambulance crews waiting several hours to handover patients.”

Paisley-based MSP Neil Bibby backed the news that mooted cuts have stalled, saying: “Any proposed cuts to ambulance services must be stopped. Our NHS is already stretched to the limit. Patients and staff have been through enough in the past few years without such a wrongheaded move.

“Ambulance services are already overstretched and staff faced soaring workloads. To cut services at such a time is inexplicable.”

Ambulances wait at Paisley’s A&E

The Labor West Scotland politician added: “We need to be increasing ambulance numbers, not cutting them. The Scottish Government need to be listening to paramedics, who have warned of the potential dangers of these cuts.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service played down the changes.

An SAS spokesperson said: “Through our Demand and Capacity programme, we are working closely with staff and continually reviewing demand. We have recently identified the next phase of implementation for Paisley and the Vale of Leven, and we’re accelerating plans to increase resourcing which will be of benefit to both staff and the local communities.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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