Ambulance crisis: Average waiting time for ambulance in Glasgow reaches almost an hour

Response times for ambulances in Glasgow have reached an average of almost two hours, according to new figures obtained by GlasgowWorld.

Data provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service, following a Freedom of Information request from GlasgowWorld, shows that the average response time for a yellow incident in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area reached 118 minutes in 2021.

That was more than six times the average in 2016, when the average response time was 16 minutes.

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The news comes less than a week after the service apologised to the family of Maryhill man Richard Brown, who died after waiting more than five hours for an ambulance despite repeated calls from a neighbour.

Response times to incidents

The data, which covers the period between January-September 2016 and January-September 2021, shows that the average response time for the most serious incidents (purple and red) has risen, although not by much.

The Scottish Ambulance Service responded to 801 purple incidents in 2016 with an average response time of 6:29 - in 2021, that was up to 7:40 at 3710 incidents. Similarly, the average response time to red incidents has risen from 7:29 to 9:56.

However, response times to less serious incidents have risen dramatically.

The service responded to 39,847 amber incidents in 2021, with an average response time of 28:56 - more than double the 13:23 response time in 2016.

Rise in turnaround times

It is not just the length of time it is taking ambulances to reach incidents which is rising.

Figures also show that the turnaround times at hospitals has also shot up. This includes is the total length of time the ambulance team spend at the hospital - from when it has arrived at the hospital to when the team declare themselves ready for the next call.

In 2016, the average turnaround time was 31:52, but five years later that has risen to 45:47.

The Scottish Ambulance Service says this is due to emergency departments being at near or full capacity.

What is the Scottish Ambulance Service doing to improve these figures?

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We have been experiencing significant and sustained pressures on our service in recent months, which are a reflection of wider challenges across the NHS in Scotland. Lengthy patient handover times at hospitals, due to emergency departments being at near or full capacity, continue to be a major issue and are significantly impacting on our ability to get to patients as quickly as we’d like to.

“We are taking a range of actions each and every day to reduce waits. We are working alongside NHS boards to address lengthy patient handover times to get our hardworking crews back on the road to help patients, staffing numbers are being boosted through accelerated recruitment and we are receiving great assistance from partners, particularly around lower acuity calls such as timed admissions, freeing up our emergency ambulance crews to attend amber and yellow category emergency calls.

“We are also using advanced paramedics, community first responders and other key staff to get to all categories of patients and our National Command and Control Centre has been stood up to monitor waiting times and take immediate actions to identify resources to attend patients waiting longer than we would like.”