Ambulance service in Fife misses target

Stock image. Picture Toby Williams
Stock image. Picture Toby Williams

Ambulances reacting to the most importantly-classified calls in Fife in 2015-16 missed national targets by a near double-figure percentage.

But the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) says new investment in equipment, vehicles and employees should allow a faster response – hopefully deflecting recent criticism over falling standards.

Fears that slower responses were putting lives at risk had also prompted vital questions for the Scottish Government.

The SAS is expected to arrive at 75 per cent of incidents relating to immediately life-threatening situations – known as category A calls – within eight minutes.

Recent annual reports have shown the Fife fleet hovered just below that target figure, recording 73.9 per cent in 2013-14 and 72.2 per cent in 2014-15.

However, last year, the Kingdom dropped to 65.5 per cent – almost 10 points below the set level.

In its annual report for 2015-16, the SAS explained the shortcomings: “This target was challenging due to Category A demand increasing by 4.9 per cent last year, a significant increase compared with previous trends.”

It also took four minutes longer to service each patient from allocating an ambulance to clearing from hospital, added the report.

“This placed additional pressure on ambulance resources and the service is working closely with NHS health and social care partners to address these issues,” he said.

Lewis Campbell, general manager for the service’s East Central area, said: “The SAS has made significant investment in new vehicles, frontline staff and equipment recently – £77.8m in the national fleet, £5m in additional paramedics and specialist paramedics and £175,000 in major trauma equipment.”

He added: “We introduced a new pilot clinical response model in November which aims to save more lives and improve the quality of care for patients. It will allow us to respond faster to more patients with time-critical, immediately life threatening conditions.”

Mr Campbell concluded: “With each situation, we consider every alternative to provide the right resource the first time for patients.”