The recruitment of Scottish Ambulance staff is being stepped up to help respond to the significantly high pressure on the NHS.
As many as 179 new staff are expected to join the service between October and November, with a further 177 to be recruited by March 2022.
The recruits are set to include front line paramedics, technicians and ambulance care assistants.
A total of 210 staff have already been recruited and trained over the last six months, bringing the total for this year to nearly 600 frontline staff.
It comes amidst warnings over the challenges faced by health services over winter, with a potential rise in Covid cases, as well as a seasonal rise in demand.
In September, more than 200 army personnel were deployed in Scotland to provide assistance by driving ambulances and operating mobile coronavirus testing units.
Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said that the new staff will be a “real boost”.
“We know that this is one of the most significant periods of pressure on the NHS since its inception. All parts of the system are under pressure and it’s been tough out there for our staff and patients,” she said.
“Everyone is working so hard to help patients and our staff continue to do a fantastic job.
“We know that there will be little let up in those pressures over the next few months so we are accelerating our efforts to increase capacity and do everything we can to support staff.
“These new staff coming in will be a real boost. We continue to prioritise those patients who are most critically ill and staff continue to go above and beyond to save lives with survival figures for patients in our most acute response category at their highest ever level.”
Howie said that a range of actions are being taken each day in order to reduce ambulance waiting times.
Praising the work of staff, she said: “It is a real testament to their ability to deliver despite the wider pressures upon the system.
“For those lower acuity patients who do have to wait longer for an ambulance, we are trying to get to you as quickly as we can and I’d once again thank you for your patience.
“We are taking a range of actions each and every day to reduce waits. We are working closely with NHS boards to address the hospital turnaround times to get our crews back on the road to help patients, we are boosting staffing numbers through accelerated recruitment.
“We are receiving great assistance from partners, using advanced paramedics, community first responders and other key staff to get to all categories of patients for example.
“And our National Command and Control Centre has been stood up to monitor waiting times and take immediate actions to identify and free up resources to attend patients waiting longer than we would like.“
She added: “As we move into the winter period, we would ask the public to continue to use 999 wisely. If people have serious health concerns or symptoms, call 999.
“If your condition isn’t life-threatening, you should call NHS24 on 111.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country