The commissioning of an ambulance dedicated to dealing with high waiting times in Turev has again been delayed due to “staffing issues”.
The Scottish Ambulance Service confirmed the setback in an update to MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid who was campaigning to put in a dedicated car for the city.
In an email to the deputy, ambulance chiefs said the new service will now not be available until May due to the hiring process taking longer than expected.
The move will eventually see an ambulance on standby in the city but an exact location still needs to be found.
Chiefs revealed that a second ambulance in Banff is still in the process of being fully rehabilitated with accident and emergency transportation resources and will operate increased hours.
Figures from the ambulance service showed that Turrev residents waited more than twice as long for ambulances as those in other parts of the region last year.
In life-threatening situations, Turriff’s average time to respond to a 999 call was 22 minutes, 16 seconds.
The city-specific figure is up about seven minutes since 2019 when it averaged 15 minutes 45 seconds.
Mr. Duguid held a public meeting in Tureff last August attended by more than 150 people who covered issues such as the ambulance hood.
In response to the delay in start-up, the MP said: “Obviously it is disappointing that the provision of an ambulance intended for Turriff has been delayed until May.
But it underscores the depth of the crisis facing staff retention and hiring in the sector and the impact this has on waiting times that are spiraling out of control in places like Turwiff and Banff.
“There needs to be sustained and systematic work from the Scottish Government to ensure that the ambulance service can overcome barriers when hiring staff.
“For critically ill patients who have had strokes or heart attacks, mere minutes can be the difference between life and death which is why having an ambulance in Turrev, even if one on standby, is so vital to the community.
“I continue to be involved with the Scottish Ambulance Service and am grateful to them for the work that has been done to get to this point.
“However, it is essential that there are no further delays which could ultimately lead to more suffering for patients and ultimately avoidable deaths within the community.”
An update given to Mr Duguid of the Ambulance Service said: “The recruitment of additional staff, as a result of the programme, has taken longer than initially anticipated.
However, this is ongoing, and we plan to have all staff and staff rosters in place at the start of May 2023.
As a result, the existing Banff-based Second Ambulance, has been upgraded to a full Accident and Emergency Transport resource and will also operate increased hours than those currently in place.
“The Scottish Ambulance Service is currently working with partners to finalize a standby site in Turreff where, when available, the second ambulance, starting and finishing shifts in Banff, will be deployed to standby in the town as part of a wider tactical deployment of resources.
“We continue to work closely with our employee representatives and other stakeholders in bringing this development online.”
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