Investment boost announced for Ambulance Service in Caithness

 Friday 17 November 2017

Ambulance provision in Caithness has been boosted with the announcement that funding for the service has been increased to almost half a million pounds.

Investment has been increased to £491,000 from the originally planned £400,000 with the total being split 50/50 between NHS Highland and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The move means that from next year, the Service will be able to provide a 24/7 on shift service at both Wick and Thurso with an additional vehicle on duty for 16 hours between the two stations, seven days a week.

In addition, nine new paramedic and technician jobs are to be created by April 2018 with all the staff based in Caithness.

These new posts will remove the current practice of needing to locate ‘on call’ staff on rotation at either Caithness General Hospital in Wick or the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso.

The investment follows a review last year which showed an increase in inter-hospital transfers between Caithness General Hospital and Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Aside from helping ensure that hospital transfers are undertaken in a more timely manner, the additional resources will also provide a number of benefits for local residents.

Milne Weir, the Services northern division general manager, said, “This funding boost has allowed us to further improve both patient-centred care and staff welfare in Caithness.

“We have created nine additional posts and have introduced an additional ambulance to significantly enhance the cover we can provide throughout the region.

“This new model, which was agreed in partnership with staff and staff representatives, will allow us to address changing patient needs, increase resilience and remove the need for on-call working.

“We will continue to work closely with healthcare partners, staff and local communities to monitor demand and review performance to ensure we are providing a safe and effective level of cover at all times.”

Michelle Johnstone, NHS Highland’s North and West area manager, said: “This investment boost will improve the resilience of the health and social care service we provide in Caithness. Having the extra Service staff and ambulance based in Wick or Thurso will give us an increased responsiveness that will support clinical decision making within our hospitals.”