Quarter of ambulances more than five years old, figures show

One ambulance still being used in Dumfries was registered 19 years ago in February 2005.

Quarter of Scottish Ambulance Service vehicles more than five years old, figures show STV News

A quarter of Scottish Ambulance Service vehicles are more than five years old and one was registered nearly 20 years ago, according to “deeply alarming” figures shared by the Scottish Conservatives.

The service has 1,298 ambulances with registration dates, of which 337 were registered before February 2019, Tory analysis of ambulance service data found.

The Conservatives described the age of the vehicles as “deeply alarming” and said the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) was “under-resourced”.

A spokesman for the SAS said vehicles which are more than seven years old are not used for emergencies and could be used as “storage vehicles”.

One ambulance still being used in Dumfries was registered 19 years ago in February 2005 – two years before the SNP came to power.

The second oldest was registered 14 years ago in December 2009, while two others were registered in July 2010 and are approaching 14 years old.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “These claims are misleading and inaccurate. Frontline accident and emergency ambulances have a planned asset life of seven years and the average age of our ambulances is four years.

“The vehicles over seven years old are support, specialist or storage vehicles not emergency ambulances.”

A five-year business case document from the service said vehicles have a “short finite life” and should be replaced.

It added: “This is the second five-year business case for fleet replacement that the service has developed to secure funding over the five-year period.”

Another 17 ambulances do not have registration dates.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said ageing vehicles pose a “greater risk” of breaking down.

He urged health secretary Neil Gray to ensure the ambulance service is able to replace vehicles in a “timely manner”.

He said: “These deeply alarming figures paint a picture of a dangerously overstretched and under-resourced ambulance service.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service admit themselves that vehicles have a short, finite life, so it is concerning that hundreds of them who are operating across the country are now over five years old.

“That is yet another damning indictment of how the SNP have mismanaged all aspects of our health service during their 17 years in office.

“Neil Gray must urgently step up and support our dedicated ambulance crews by adopting the bold and ambitious plans we set out in our new health paper for a modern, efficient and local approach to our NHS.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) realise the importance of ensuring an up to date fleet of ambulance resources is available to respond to the public.

“That is why SAS submitted a fleet replacement business case back in 2021/22 which is being supported by the Scottish Government with £115m investment over a five year period. This will see over 1,000 new vehicles on the road by 2025/26.”

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