Inter-hospital ambulance transfers predicted to double admit ambulance chiefs




5 April 2017

Ambulance bosses are admitting that inter-hospital transfers from Caithness General are estimated to double this year from the number recorded four to five years ago.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has now received an answer to a question sent on 8th December last year asking the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) for details of transfers.

The SAS answer, dated 4th April, says in 2012/2013 431 were recorded but projected for this year are 656, an extra 225 transfers and a 52% increase. The service has said the majority were to Raigmore Hospital.

However, the number of maternity transfers, to Inverness or Aberdeen, was “not held within” its management system and could not be made within the timescale of the MSP’s request, according to SAS.

“It is interesting that SAS has just announced a £400,000 investment with NHS Highland to increase ambulance provision in Caithness,” commented Mrs Grant.

“These figures speak for themselves and show just how much strain ambulance staff are feeling in the Far North.

“The ambulance service did apologise that my original letter “did not reach them” but it is unfortunate that I didn’t receive the figures earlier this year when the situation was being raised by concerned constituents.

“I fear that investment in remote and rural areas is not being considered by the Scottish Government’s ever increasing centralised health service. I will keep campaigning to remind the Government that areas in the Highlands and Islands should not be forgotten.

“And, while I welcome the additional investment made last week, I am now left wondering if this will come anywhere close to meeting demand.”

Mrs Grant has continued to ask questions about the pressure on the service and the resources available. In early 2016 she received inter-hospital transfer figures which then showed there had been a nearly 25% increase in such transfers from Caithness General Hospital over three years.

The latest figures from SAS highlight:

·         2012/2013 –  431 hospital transfers

·         2013/2014 -   496 hospital transfers

·         2014/2015 -   542 hospital transfers

·         2015/2016 -   616 hospital transfers

·         2016/2017 -   656 (projected) hospital transfers