Published by BBC NEWS - 29th March 2022

Ambulances at A&E

Image source, Getty Images

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) recruited a record number of frontline A&E staff last year in a bid to cope with the pressures of the pandemic.

The figures were revealed six months after soldiers were drafted in to drive ambulances following a Scottish government request.

As a result, ministers later increased funding for the service by £20m.

The SAS said its 540 new recruits would help improve patient safety and staff welfare.

The intake over the last financial year included 414 technicians, 58 newly-qualified paramedics and 25 paramedics.

Of the total, 237 are based in the west, 192 in the east and 111 in the north.

SAS chief executive Pauline Howie said: “The last 12 months have been the busiest ever in terms of recruitment for the service and this is great news for the people of Scotland.

“With the increased demand for our services, it’s vital we introduce extra resources and staffing.

“This will ensure we continue to deliver the very best patient care by boosting capacity and increasing our resilience in communities across Scotland.”

‘Incredible job’

She added that the new employees would complement existing staff who had done an “incredible job” throughout the pandemic.

It is hoped a similar number of staff will be recruited in 2022/23.

The use of military support last year came amid warnings from health professionals and opposition politicians of a crisis within the Scottish Ambulance Service, with reports of some patients facing extremely long waits for help to arrive.

At one point, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was warned he could put lives at risk after urging people to “think twice” before calling an ambulance.

Paramedic with soldier at ambulance

Image source, PA Media

Commenting on the jobs boost, Mr Yousaf described the SAS as “the heartbeat of our NHS” and praised the work of staff in the face of unprecedented pressure.

He added: “This record recruitment is a demonstration of the action we are taking to help our health service at its time of critical need.

“They will be vital in enhancing the service already provided by dedicated staff.”

Mr Yousaf said the government was fully committed to ensuring the SAS had both the resources and skilled staff to continue to deliver a high quality emergency health service.

Over the last year, additional ambulances have also gone live in Edinburgh and Lothian, Greater Glasgow, Tayside, Grampian and Clyde.

The SAS employs more than 5,000 people and responds to more than 1.5 million calls a year.




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