Deputy FM apologises after '700 ambulances stuck outside A&E in a week'

The SNP is accused of presiding over the worst ambulance waiting times on record.

The deputy first minister has issued an apology after she was told 700 ambulances were left stuck outside A&E in just one week.

Douglas Ross said figures released on Wednesday revealed one in every ten ambulances in Scotland sat outside hospitals across the country for hours.

The Scottish Tory leader said a freedom of information (FOI) request by his party showed some of the worst waiting times on record.

He pointed to one case of an ambulance waiting outside an Ayshire hospital for 15 hours while another in Grampian sat for 12 hours.

There was also one incident of an ambulance waiting for 11 hours in the Lothian health board region.

Shona Robison said similar pressures on the health service are being felt throughout the UK.

She said patient safety remains the Scottish Government’s top priority.

The deputy FM said: “I would apologise to anyone who has either experienced any waits for an ambulance to reach them or indeed has had to wait too long at A&E.”

Ross described the wait times as “scandalous”.

Robison criticised what she said was inadequate funding from the UK Government.

But she said the Scottish Government is working hard to address the issues.

As well as wait times outside hospitals, Ross said FOIs by the Scottish Tories uncovered “shocking” ambulance response times for purple calls for the most life-threatening situations.

He said some patients were waiting more than half an hour while others waited 10 times longer than the government’s six-minute target.

The deputy first minister said most cases are responded to as quickly as possible.

But she added: “I accept it is not acceptable if someone is waiting for too long for those calls.

“The median response for purple calls for the week ending December 10 was 7 minutes 32 seconds and for red nine minutes 35 seconds.

“I accept that is too long and I accept there are people waiting outside those times.

“What I will say though is that the investment made in our health service is not down to any of the resources given to us by the UK Government.”

She said next year all the money the UK Government is giving the Scottish Government for health is about £10.8m – enough for five hours of capacity in the NHS.

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