Girvan patient wades into ambulance row

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A GIRVAN man with a serious lung condition has echoed concerns about the single-manning of ambulances in South Ayrshire.

Billy Walker, 75, of 1 Montgomerie Place, has condemned the policy as “senseless” after half of his hospital transfers this year were affected by it.

An established face at Montgomerie Street’s China Moon restaurant, Mr Walker has suffered from the breathing condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for the past 70 years.

He describes his condition as “a very scary illness”, similar to drowning, and like having a 56lb bag of cement on his chest when trying to sleep.

He has already had to be rushed to Ayr Hospital four times since January. And on two of those occasions, Mr Walker said the paramedic that attended him was forced to wait for a second ambulance to arrive to make up the required team of two – including one driver – for the journey.

While the crew were en route to Ayr, the second ambulance remained abandoned in Girvan.

Mr Walker had read about Girvan and South Carrick councillor Alec Clark’s concerns regarding single-manned ambulances in last week’s Carrick Gazette, and felt compelled to speak out about the issue.

“I never gave it a minute’s thought at the time but what a waste of manpower and time,” said Mr Walker. “That other paramedic has got to come all the way back down to Girvan to recover the other vehicle.

“Mr Clark is quite right,” he said. “To me it is a disgrace that we have got this great big £80,000 or £100,000 ambulance and no driver. It is absolute madness. If it is an ambulance conveying people to outpatients, that’s different, but when it comes to the real McCoy there is no sense in having all these quality resources and no driver.”

Mr Walker had no criticisms of the paramedics themselves. “On all occasions, the ambulance crew came in good time. I take my hat off to them; they’re brilliant,” he said.

But he claims their working con­ditions amount to a “senseless govern­ment carry-on”.

Speaking to the Carrick Gazette last week, Councillor Clark said: “It’s a very important issue in rural areas, especially in Girvan, where we don’t have access to 24-hour emergency services. There is a time factor there that could be crucial to the patient.”

He has addressed his concerns to Car­rick MSP Adam Ingram and is seeking assurances from Health Secretary Alex Neil that the issue will be investigated.

Spokespeople for the Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish govern­ment said single-manned ambulances are only deployed in exceptional circum­stances, such as late notice of absence, and they are in regular contact to make sure this continues to be the case.

Read the Carrick Gazette’s original story, ‘Ayrshire ambulance anguish’, at http://www.carricktoday.co.uk/news/local-headlines/ayrshire-ambulance-anguish-1-2522057