Sometimes I wonder what Edinburgh has done to upset the SNP Government. In addition to insults like cutting the Capital’s budget more than elsewhere (£226 per person compared to a Scottish average of £148) and ignoring us on things like the Tourist tax, the latest insult will see ambulance staff replace GPs in some instances (report, 23/07/18).
I don’t doubt the dedication and professionalism of Edinburgh’s paramedics, but their training is no match for that of a GP. Providing healthcare on the cheap like this in our capital will no doubt put lives at risk.
It’s not only training that is an issue, we know that the ambulance service in the Lothians is stretched to the limit. Last year alone, 2,000 people had to wait over an hour for an ambulance. Indeed, there were 15 call-outs in 2017 where paramedics took longer than five hours to respond. Furthermore, we know that average response times in Scotland have increased from just under eight minutes in 2013-14 to over 15 minutes in 2017-18.
Anyone that doubts the pressure the Scottish Ambulance Service is under should remember that Jeane Freeman MSP, the new SNP Health Secretary, was recently urged to review ambulance provision across Scotland after it was revealed that the number of minibuses responding to 999 emergencies had trebled in four years.
It’s bonkers to think the GP recruitment crisis the SNP created can be resolved by loading even more pressure on our already stretched paramedics.
The only meaningful way to take pressure off GP’s in the short-term is to recruit more practice nurses to work in partnership with them under the same roof. The problem with that is that nurses have been in short supply since Nicola Sturgeon ignored the RCN and cut nurse training places – agencies are now getting up to £1,900 a shift for nursing staff.
We now have a perfect storm where the SNP’s strategic decisions on nurse training, GP recruitment and the funding of the Scottish Ambulance Service are putting lives at risk in our Capital.