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Ambulance staff mental health absences up 300%

November 11, 2021 3:14 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today revealed new figures showing the traumatic impact of the waiting times crisis on ambulance staff.

A Freedom of Information request received by Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed soaring mental health-related absences within the Scottish Ambulance Service.

During First Minister's Questions, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"There is a muscle memory to these exchanges. Week after week opposition members ask the government about the crisis in emergency care and week after week the government respond by blaming the pandemic.

"The Deputy First Minister has doubled down on that today by accusing Anas Sarwar of being in denial, and yet the former Chief Executive of NHS Scotland said this crisis has been years in the making but the pandemic has only hastened the date.

"I want the Deputy First Minister to put himself in the shoes of our hardworking emergency care staff.

"The call handlers answering repeated calls asking again and again when the ambulance will come.

"Paramedics who are attending doors knowing that behind that door is somebody who has been waiting in pain for hours on end. That must be absolutely traumatic.

"I have here a freedom of information request. We learned the number of ambulance staff hours lost to mental ill health is now up 300% since 2017. That's 40,000 hours between July and September alone.

"One paramedic told the Daily Record 'We feel as if we are failing the public even though it's not our fault'.

"Presiding Officer, it is not their fault, so can I ask the Deputy First Minister to stop grasping at straws, to stop blaming the pandemic and accept that his government is letting these vital staff down."