Ambulance response times: Falkirk one of the few areas to show improvement

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Ambulance response times in the Falkirk area have actually improved over the last couple of years which is not the case in the rest of Scotland.

While average ambulance response times have got worse in the majority of local authority areas throughout the country, Falkirk has actually improved its performance over the last few years.

On purple call outs – those pertaining to the most critically ill patients – the service attended 659 incidents at an average response time of eight minutes and 43 seconds back in 2022 and this improved to an average response time of seven minutes and 52 seconds over 687 call outs in 2023.

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Red calls – where the patient is at risk of cardiac arrest – saw Falkirk ambulances register and average response time of 11 minutes and 31 seconds over 2963 incidents in 2022 and get that down to nine minutes and 34 seconds over 3027 call outs in 2023.

Ambulance response times in the Falkirk area have improved from 2022 to 2023 (Picture: John Devlin, National World)Ambulance response times in the Falkirk area have improved from 2022 to 2023 (Picture: John Devlin, National World)
Ambulance response times in the Falkirk area have improved from 2022 to 2023 (Picture: John Devlin, National World)

In terms of Amber calls – where a patient is likely to need transport to hospital and specialist care – Falkirk attended 6339 incidents in an average response time of 23 minutes in 2022 and 5888 incidents in 18 minutes and 39 seconds in 2023.

The figures were gathered together from a Freedom of Information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats analysing ambulance wait times for the previous four calendar years across all 32 local authorities.

Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP subsequently called upon the SNP Government to recognise the pressures on ambulance staff after the figures showed the average waiting times for the two most critical levels of ambulance calls had got worse in nearly every local authority since 2019.

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Between 2019 and 2023, 31 local authorities, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fife and Edinburgh, experienced an increase in average waiting times for purple calls, which represent the most serious category of ambulance call outs.

The longest waiting time for a purple call in 2023 was in Glasgow, where a patient waited two hours and one minute, followed by Aberdeen City where a patient waited one hour and 54 minutes.

Between 2019 and 2023, 28 local authorities, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fife and North Lanarkshire, experienced an increase in average waiting times for red calls, which represent the second most serious category of ambulance call outs.

The longest waiting time for a red call in 2023 was in Highland, where a patient waited eight hours and 58 minutes, followed by Aberdeen where a patient waited 8 hours and 55 minutes.

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The longest waiting time for any call in 2023 was 1,066 minutes, or 17 hours.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “If you call an ambulance at a moment of crisis, you want to know that someone will be there in time to help you as best they can. Tragically, this is simply not happening for so many people across Scotland.

"It is extremely worrying that high risk callers in particular have had to wait more than an hour for help. The health secretary needs to recognise the pressures the service is under and look again at what needs to be done to improve life for both patients and staff.

"Swift action could make all the difference between life and death.”

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