Scottish Ambulance Service chiefs who paid a visit to Shetland to meet staff and public had a disappointing reception in the North Mainland. The public meeting in Brae, timetabled for 4pm on Thursday, at which NHS Shetland bosses were also present, attracted a solitary member of the public.
Earlier in the day SAS chief executive Pauline Howie, chairman David Garbutt and head of service for the area Andy Fuller came straight from the plane to meet local ambulance personnel at their base in Montfield.
This was the first time senior management, who had been in the isles in May to launch the retained ambulance initiative, had met ambulance staff.
Afterwards Ms Howie confirmed ambulance crews are still working overtime to improve the service. “They are working additional shifts and are committed to continuing. Performance has improved as a result.”
She said that ambulance crews could be potentially be offered more training as a way of delivering a higher degree of care to patients. “Ambulance staff are a limited part of the patient pathway. By enhancing skills, [ambulance staff] could treat and refer patients, or treat them at home or in the community. Not everyone has to go to A & E.”
Ambulance crews would be able to access clinical support through phoning a “professional to professional” line, she said.
Regarding the retained ambulance scheme for Lerwick, Ms Howie said 10 people would shortly go forward to the recruitment stage. In Brae, four additional people had now volunteered for the First Responder scheme.
She said: “We are committed to finding a sustainable solution for the longer term. We are not stopping once we get a retained service. [We want] to get something more robust.”
• According to SAS figures, the standard for response in Shetland is to respond to 50 per cent of all emergency calls within eight minutes. In the last six months this was broadly achieved, although in May only 32 of 80 calls were answered in that time (40 per cent) and in August, out of 86 calls, only 35 were answered in time (40.7 per cent).