Almost 300 new ambulance staff are to be recruited as part of efforts to remobilise the NHS and ensure the service is “ready for the challenges ahead”, health secretary Humza Yousaf has announced.
The £20m needed for the recruitment drive is part of the Scottish Government’s £1bn plan to bolster the NHS in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It comes as the NHS remains under pressure as a result of coronavirus, with a sharp surge in cases in Scotland in recent days.
The latest wave of recruitment will see paramedics, technicians, patient transport staff and other professionals taken on in the north and north-east of Scotland.
In addition, additional ambulances and other resources will be made available to help the service better cope with demand.
Yousaf praised ambulance workers, who he said have been “at the heart of the response to the coronavirus pandemic”, adding that “we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their courage, commitment and professionalism”.
He added: “These additional resources show that this Government is determined to ensure they have the support needed to meet patient demand as the NHS continues to remobilise.
“Our recent recovery plan targeted over £1bn of investment over the next five years across the whole health system to increase capacity and ensure the health service is ready for the challenges ahead.
“Investment in support for staff and their wellbeing will be an essential and vital component of our recovery and the reduction of on-call working for ambulance staff will help with this.”
Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive Pauline Howie said the funding is “great news” and will allow it to “continue to increase our investment in new frontline staff, new ambulances and new vehicles at pace”.
She continued: “These new resources will ensure we continue to deliver the very best patient care by boosting capacity and increasing our resilience in communities across Scotland.
“They’ll also complement our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months in extremely demanding circumstances.”
With an additional 296 staff, she said this will mean reduced on-call working and therefore an improved work/life balance for some existing employees.
Ms Howie said: “Additional stations where on-call working will also be eliminated or reduced are currently being identified.”