No fast re­sponse unit for is­lands

The Oban Times - - News 9 - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

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

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