Alex Rowley MSP was contacted by two constituents in the space of a week claiming they had endured long waits in the back of an ambulance outside Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital A&E.
Mr Rowley explained: “This is a very serious issue. We have people being held in ambulances. And then potentially others waiting on ambulances that can’t get to them. How many more are there?”
“Last week I had the first person tell me about their experience. I hoped it was a one off but now I’ve had another person contact me – who accompanied his dad in the ambulance – to say they waited an hour and a half. These are both people who are severely ill – so much so they had to be lifted from their homes and rushed to hospital by ambulance. One of them was being administered morphine. This is incredible. We need answers immediately.”
Mr Rowley has written to NHS Fife Chief Executive Carol Potter, demanding to know the scale of the issue and whether this is having an impact on A&E waiting times.
“I want to know if they logging these incidents and how many times this has happened. I think it will be much higher than these two people.” And if others have had experience of this I want them to get in touch with me,” he continued. This has major implications for the patients – yes, they are in the hands of paramedics, people who are able to care for them. But those same paramedics are there when they should be free to answer other calls. It has a major knock-on effect.”
“We need answers on the extent of the problem and what they’re going to do about it. We’re heading into a very difficult winter and NHS Fife need to be upfront and transparent about the scale of the problem faced. It’s not about blaming anybody, we have to tackle these problems now.”
NHS Fife Director of Acute Services Claire Dobson said that like health boards across the country, the whole healthcare system in Fife remains under considerable strain. The demands on our Emergency Department over recent months have been entirely unprecedented.
“During particularly busy periods, it has been necessary for a small number of patients to remain within ambulances with trained paramedic staff for a short time before being seen within our Emergency Department. In such cases, ambulance crews remain in frequent dialogue with staff in the Emergency Department throughout. Our aim remains to provide high-quality care while minimising the time patients are required to wait to be seen.”