'A&E isn't the place to be seen immediately by a doctor anymore'

It comes as thousands of NHS workers in Scotland are balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

A paramedic has told how upsetting it is knowing that people are waiting for hours for an ambulance to take them to overwhelmed emergency departments where they are left to wait for treatment.

Shona Dalgeish, from Edinburgh, welcomed a recruitment drive for more staff as well as more resources for the Scottish Ambulance Service but said they need to be used “wisely”.

“It can be quite scary phoning an ambulance and hoping that you’ll get one,” she told STV News.

“These are the stories we see on the news. People that fall, that injure themselves, that can’t get up, they will wait for hours and those jobs upset me.”

The paramedic, who has 17 years experience, said that A&E departments in hospitals are not the safe haven they used to be.

“We have in the past known that the emergency department is the place to take people to be treated and to be seen immediately by a doctor,” she said.

“But it can’t be that place all the time now. It doesn’t feel as safe a pathway as it used to.

“So where could [patients] be? Where should they be? Or how can we free up that space in the department for those people to be there that need to be there?”

It comes as thousands of NHS workers in Scotland including paramedics and call handlers are balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

The Scottish Government has pointed to the huge challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic on the ambulance service and the wider NHS.

More than 500 paramedics, ambulance drivers, call handlers and clinicians were recruited by the Scottish Ambulance Service over the last year.

Under the NHS Winter Resilience Plan set out by Humza Yousaf, £45m is also being made available to help ensure the NHS is working as efficiently as possible.

The Government has described the funding as having had a “tangible impact” on response times, with 99% of all serious incidents, including heart attacks, being dealt with in under 30 minutes.

The health secretary said the Government had to come forward with a significantly improved offer given the strength of feeling and level of rejection.

He said he was “hopeful” about avoiding strikes.