Shetland’s second ambulance is to operate from Lerwick and not Brae as originally planned due to difficulties in recruiting staff, it has been revealed.
In the wake of public pressure following a series of incidents when the ambulance was unavailable because it was already attending to a patient or patients, the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) announced in May that a new retained crew would be hired to operate a new ambulance from Brae.
However despite what the service described as a “concerted effort” only one suitable candidate emerged from the recruitment process.
The service will now advertise the posts in Lerwick where staff have already been working additional overtime shifts to improve cover in the isles.
In a statement, Pauline Howie, acting chief executive of the SAS, said: “We are very disappointed that the plans for a retained ambulance in the Brae area have been unsuccessful. Both our staff and members of the local Brae community have worked very hard to get the initiative up and running but unfortunately the recruitment process did not produce enough successful candidates.
“We plan to advertise in Lerwick as soon as possible with the intention of establishing an additional retained ambulance there.”
In a report laid before Shetland’s health board in May it was stated that there were 43 occasions in the previous year when the ambulance had not been available, and that Shetland delivered consistently worse response times than Orkney and the Western Isles.
It had been hoped to recruit eight people to train initially to ambulance technician standard. A new £80,000 ambulance was acquired.
Meanwhile, a First Responders team established in Brae earlier this year will continue to operate in the area and support ambulance crews when appropriate.