The number of paramedics in the north-east has shot up almost 25% in the last five years – while the number of incidents has risen by less than 2%, the Evening Express can reveal.
New statistics show the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) had 249 paramedics in the north division – serving Highlands, Grampian, the Western and Northern Isles – in 2013 and 311 as of November 1, 2018 – a rise of 24.9%.
The number of overall staff in the division over the same period has risen from 572 to 785 – a 37.2% increase.
Meanwhile, the number of incidents the service has attended has also risen, but at a much slower rate.
In the 2013-14 tax year, the service attended 94,429 incidents across the division, compared with 96,031 in 2017-18 – a 1.7% rise.
Between April 1 and July 31 last year, there were 32,759. If those four-month figures are projected to cover all of 2018-19, there would be 98,277 incidents – a rise of 4% on 2013-14 figures.
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Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson said: “Staff numbers are increasing, but the public will struggle to accept the service is improving while lives are being lost.”
However, North-east Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said: “It’s very good news there has been such an increase in staff, especially with paramedics.”
A service spokesman said: “We are seeing and treating more patients at home and spending more time with them to ensure they get the right level of care.
“We continually assess the number of frontline staff we have so we can improve the care we provide and meet demand as Scotland’s population grows – that’s why we are training an additional 1,000 paramedics (across Scotland) by 2021.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our highly-skilled ambulance crews continue to be one of the highest performing services in the UK. Across Scotland, 75% of patients were seen in under 10 minutes in 2017.
“To help with increasing demand we have provided almost £900 million to the service in the last four years.
“It is for SAS to ensure its resources are used efficiently.”