Army to be deployed to struggling ambulance services across Scotland from Saturday

Credit: PA

The army will be deployed to struggling ambulance services across Scotland from Saturday.

A total of 225 personnel will help drive vehicles and operate mobile testing sites.

It comes as NHS Borders says 'unprecedented pressures' may mean further cancellations to routine operations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week she would request help from the military to ease a backlog in the ambulance service which was causing long waits for patients.

Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousuf in Holyrood Credit: PA

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced 88 drivers and 15 support staff could be called in, as well as a boost of £20 million to the ambulance service budget.

Mr Yousaf also confirmed help has been granted from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, again to increase driver numbers, while adding that taxi companies could be called in to help transport non-urgent patients.

He said: "I have also reached out to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and I am glad to say, and in typical fashion, they have risen to our call."

"We have also brought support both from British Red Cross and as well as private contractors, such as taxi companies, to help with some of the ambulance service's work where no emergency ambulance is required."

The Health Secretary also sought to allay any possible fears that people in urgent need of care would be taken to hospital by taxi, saying: "Let me be absolutely clear, if you are in critical or life-threatening need you will be taken to hospital in an ambulance, if one is requested.

"Alternative transport arrangements are for those patients with low-acuity and patient safety will remain the number one priority."

Some 100 second-year paramedic students, the Health Secretary added, would also be brought in to support call handling operations, while nine more hospital ambulance liaison officers will be hired to better co-ordinate emergency care.

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