Military may be brought in after 'man dies waiting for 40 hours for an ambulance'

16 September 2021, 14:10 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:50

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has apologised "unreservedly" for the crisis in the Scottish ambulance service.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has apologised "unreservedly" for the crisis in the Scottish ambulance service. Picture: Alamy

By Joe Cook

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the military could be brought in to help deal with a crisis in the ambulance service, after reports that a man died waiting 40 hours for paramedics to arrive.

Reports also say the military is considering a request to help Northern Ireland's response to Covid.

The Scottish first minister apologised "unreservedly" for the long waiting times, but warned the issues would continue "for a period" due to Covid pressures heading into the winter.

Ms Sturgeon was questioned by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament about the death of Gerald Brown, 65, from Glasgow.

Mr Brown died after waiting 40 hours for an ambulance, according to the Herald newspaper.

The father-of-three's GP repeatedly warned 999 call handlers that the man's status was critical and branded the ambulance service as “third world medicine”.

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The first minister offered her condolences to the mans family, adding: "I apologise unreservedly to anyone that has suffered or is suffering unacceptably long waits."

New funding has already been given to support the recruitment of paramedics and further actions are being considered, including "consideration of seeking targeted military assistance to help deal with short-term pressure points," she added.

"Such military assistance is already being provided to ambulance services in England and of course we have had military assistance for other aspects of the pandemic over the past 18 months."

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Ms Sturgeon's comments come after Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf controversially said on Wednesday that people should "think twice" before calling for an ambulance.

Tory leader Douglas Ross criticised Mr Yousaf's comments, calling them "dangerous and reckless", and urged the first minister to apologise on Mr Yousaf's behalf.

Refusing to apologise, the first minister instead contradicted her health minister, saying Scots should "never hesitate in calling an ambulance if that is the intervention they think is required".

Ms Sturgeon also refused to say there was a crisis, instead saying: "I don't challenge the extent of the pressure that's on our ambulance service and indeed on all parts of our national health service.

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Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been criticised for telling people to "think twice" before calling for an ambulance.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been criticised for telling people to "think twice" before calling for an ambulance. Picture: Alamy

Responding to the reports of Mr Brown's death, a spokeswoman from the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "We have started an investigation into the circumstances relating to the delay in reaching Mr Brown and will be in contact with Mr Brown's family directly to apologise for the delay in response and pass on our sincere condolences.

"We are really sorry for their loss and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. All findings and lessons learned will be shared with Mr Brown's family as part of the investigation process."

Mr Brown's death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal - the Scottish prosecution service - who said an investigation was "ongoing".