No fast response unit for islands
THE VIEWS of islanders have been ignored after their demands for an emergency response unit have been turned down.
Islanders from Mull, Iona and Ulva will still have just one ambulance serving the huge geographical area.
Instead they are to be proactive in attending to patients themselves under community first responder schemes.
And the local MSP has slammed the Scottish Ambulance Service for not listening to the views of local people.
At present, some patients are choosing to get themselves to hospital rather than put further strain on the ambulance service that is creaking at the seams.
One former ambulance worker said the service was at ‘breaking point.’
He continued: ‘The ambulance could be called to Tobermory - an hour’s drive on a single track road - then another call comes in for Iona or Ulva.
‘I am not saying that people have died because of the service, but the population is ageing and there are more and more people needing help.’
A holidaymaker on Mull, who had twisted his leg out of shape, decided to travel to Oban himself rather than wait on an ambulance. John McAdam was then rushed to hospital in Paisley for emergency treatment.
John, who lives in Glasgow, said: ‘Everyone told me how stretched the emergency services on the island are.
‘I got my friend to drive me to hospital in Oban. I was in agony, but I felt I might get there quicker by not phoning an ambulance.’
However, a recent consultation on the future of ambulance services serving the three islands has now ended - and there will be no increase to the one vehicle presently in service,
The consultation outlined eight alternative options for providing the service to the islands.
And a total of 79 per cent of respondents wanted the option of the current resource plus a fast Paramedic Response Unit (PRU) hours.
While the final details have not been confirmed, a Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman told the Oban Times: ‘As part of the the Mull and Iona health care review group, we are working to develop an appropriate sustainable model of integrated health and care.
‘We are starting four new Community First Responder schemes in the coming months and have arranged for community information events to be held from August 5-7, which will be attended by current first responders who can share their knowledge and experience.
‘Plans are being developed to ensure that there is always a paramedic on the ambulance, and further enhancements have
the same also been made to the helicopter landing site to improve air ambulance access.’
But MSP, Mike Russell, said: ‘I am very disappointed with the complete inability of the Scottish Ambulance Service at the highest level to listen to the local community. This is despite two meetings in Oban over the last year at which successive Cabinet Secretaries for Health have made it clear that they agree with the unanimous view that major improvements are needed.
‘I shall be raising this whole issue with Ministers again as I support the community in their fight to get the service they need and I intend to help them get it’ he added.
Islanders are also still keen to negotiate a car service for a paramedic attending emergencies.
SOLO SERVICE: Just one ambulance will continue to serve islanders on Mull, Iona and Ulva