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Resource shortage blamed as ambulance service cancels thousands of patient journeys

Hundreds of ambulance journeys for patients are cancelled every week as a result of rising demand and staff and resource shortages, it has emerged.

Statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed an average of 44 journeys by the Patient Transport Service (PTS) are cancelled by the ambulance service every day.

In the year to May, the latest month for which figures are available, more than 16,000 journeys were cancelled.

And while the previous year’s number was 21,000, it compares to the 2014/15 total of just 10,000.

In its response to the Freedom of Information request, the Scottish Ambulance Service said there were three reasons for the cancelling of journeys.

They were when “demand exceeds the number of available resources”, when there were unexpected staff absences, or when particular specialist equipment for the journey was not available.

Of the 16,065 journeys cancelled in the last year, 4296 were scrapped on the same day of the planned journey.

In addition, ambulance bosses saidd: “There are an increasing number of ever-changing variables which are impacting on our ability to respond to daily demands, including patients who require specialist responses, an increasing number of patients travelling further distances, namely to health board areas out with their own for specialist care, and an increasing number of transport requests made on the day of travel.”

PTS journeys are when patients need help in getting to hospital on a non-emergency basis.

These figures do not include occasions where the journey has been cancelled by the patient.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“The ambulance service is very clear that hundreds of these crucial journeys are being cancelled every week as a result of resources.

“Ambulance workers themselves are doing their best to ensure vulnerable patients can get to hospital on time.

“But demand is far outstripping supply, and this is just another example of the SNP government failing to plan for the future.

“What’s more, every one of these cancelled journeys will represent some form of inconvenience for patients who deserve more from their NHS.

“The problem has got significantly worse over the years, and ministers have to work with the ambulance service to ensure these figures improve.”


Notes to editors:

To see the full Freedom of Information response, visit:

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