Rise in emergency calls to ambulance service

Ambulance staff had an extremely busy night across Scotland on Hogmanay as they dealt with 2006 calls to control centres between 7pm on New Year’s Eve and 7am on January 1.

By
Mark Dowie
Tuesday, 9th January 2024, 3:00pm
Rise in emergency calls to ambulance service

Hogmanay is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for the service and during this year’s New Year’s Eve, there was an increase of 2.2 percent compared with the same period in 2022.

The most intense period was between 1.30am – 2.45am where staff handled 328 calls - around a call every 15 seconds.

Julie Carter, on-call executive director with the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “The overall level of demand for our service has exceeded previous years and Hogmanay was one of our busiest nights of the year. Yet again, our staff in our Control Centres, on the front line and support staff showed what an incredible group of dedicated professionals they are. They are a true credit to the SAS.

“This winter we continue to face significant challenges as a result of the time of year and continuing long hospital turnaround times at some hospitals which are stopping our staff from getting back out on the road to help other patients in need.

“To help our staff, we’d like to remind people to please only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. If you need urgent care, but it’s not life-threatening, you can call NHS 24 on 111, day or night, or your GP during opening hours.”

The service also reported that more than 300 of its staff were physically or verbally abused last year, according to latest statistics.

Figures show that 328 staff suffered abuse, attacks with weapons and death threats, with ambulance staff having to deal with incidents of abuse almost every day.

Of these incidents – an increase of 51 over the previous year - 21 staff were threatened with either a knife or bottle, while 140 were either punched, kicked or spat on. There were also 124 incidents this year of verbal abuse.

Michael Dickson, SAS chief executive, said: “Our staff are having to deal with incidents nearly every single day and that is totally unacceptable. No form of abuse will be tolerated and we will continue to work with Police Scotland to take action against perpetrators."

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