'This winter will be one of the most challenging our NHS has ever faced'

Humza Yousaf has pledged to provide the Scottish Ambulance Service with the resources it needs.

‘This winter will be one of the most challenging our NHS has ever faced’ iStock

This winter will be “one of the most challenging” the NHS has ever faced, according to Humza Yousaf.

The health secretary issued the warning as he pledged to ensure that the Scottish Ambulance Service will have the resources and staff it needs.

Figures published earlier this month showed that more than 3,000 people waited for longer than eight hours for an ambulance in Scotland last year.

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 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.

Yousaf thanked the “remarkable resilience” of ambulance staff as he looked ahead to a difficult winter period.

“This winter will be one of the most challenging our NHS has ever faced and we need to make sure people are getting the right care in the right place at the right time,” he said.

“We are determined to equip the Scottish Ambulance Service with the resources and staff to continue to deliver a high-quality emergency service to the people of Scotland.

“Ambulance staff have shown remarkable resilience in the face of sustained pressure on services and I would like to thank them for their continued commitment and hard work.”

Pauline Howie, Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive, said that it is “vital” that capacity is increased through extra resources and staffing.

“The last 12 months have been the busiest ever in terms of recruitment for the service and this funding announcement is great news as we continue to experience unprecedented pressures on our services alongside the entire NHS,” said Howie.

“With the increased demand for our services, it’s vital we boost our capacity and resilience by introducing extra resources and staffing.

“These new staff will complement our existing staff who have done an amazing job before and right through the pandemic, providing the very best patient care to communities across the country.”

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