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Ambulance crisis: Aberdeenshire woman asks why her father’s death did not ‘raise flags’

A north-east woman’s 81-year-old father died just days after having to wait seven hours for an ambulance when he fell and broke his hip.

The tragic case of Susan Donald’s father, who died in January, was raised by Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie during a debate in Holyrood on Wednesday.

Ms Baillie said it showed the current crisis in the ambulance service was not a “recent problem”, and that ministers and health chiefs should have acted “months ago”.

MSPs continued to focus on the pressures on health services amid ongoing alarm at a string of tragic cases involving patients who were not reached by paramedics on time.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed to parliament military personnel would be deployed across Scotland to support ambulance services.

Mr Yousaf confirmed 114 military personnel would begin to be deployed from Sunday, as he was called back to Holyrood on Wednesday to respond to a Labour-led debate on the crisis.

Humza Yousaf
Health Secretary Humza Yousef

Ms Baillie told the SNP minister that the pressures should have been addressed a long time ago.

“For months now the cabinet secretary has done nothing. Ambulance delays were raised as an issue in the press in June, and in July and in August,” she said.

“And where was the cabinet secretary in all that time? Posted missing, clearly hoping the problems would go away by themselves.”

‘This was happening nine months ago’

Highlighting another tragic case, Ms Baillie said: “Susan Donald from Aberdeenshire got in touch with me. Her father died on January 1, 2021, aged 81.

“He fell and broke his hip three days earlier. She called the GP practice at 6pm, then she called 111, and finally she was put through to the ambulance service call centre at 9pm.

“Despite this being an emergency, the ambulance did not arrive until almost 1am the following day – seven hours after he fell.”

The Labour health spokeswoman added: “So this isn’t a recent problem. This was happening nine months ago.

“Ms Donald raised issues, quite rightly, about coordination, about governance, that she is wondering why performance data available to senior management in health boards, in the ambulance service, and the Scottish Government, did not raise flags about the problems months ago.”

At the end of the debate, Mr Yousaf said: “Let me say, a number of people have spoken, I think quite passionately, about constituency cases that have come in to them.

“Let me say, once again, as I said yesterday, anyone who has not received the standard of service they should have, I apologise absolutely unreservedly for that.”

He added: “Our ambulance service and NHS have been there when we’ve needed them most, and in turn this government will support our NHS during its greatest hour.”

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