HC Deb 17 March 1971 vol 813 cc1400-1
15. Mr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions in each of the following years, 1968, 1969, and 1970, helicopters were used for the conveyance of persons to hospital in the Highlands and North-East of Scotland.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Ten, five and four respectively.

Mr. Gray

The helicopters are on 24 hours stand-by. Does my hon. Friend agree that further use should be made of them in a general purpose sense in the rural areas, such as air-sea rescue?

Mr. Taylor

I shall look very carefully into what my hon. Friend says. I am advised that for long journeys over water fixed-wing aircraft are to be preferred. Such aircraft are already available for ambulance flights from airfields and airstrips. Because of the cost, it is not possible at present to provide routine ambulance services by helicopter over land.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Minister aware that in many districts of the Highlands the normal ambulance services are extremely unsuitable for sick people, although they may not be regarded as emergency cases? It is not satisfactory over narrow, single-track roads, which are often very crowded in the summer, to rely on normal road transport.

Mr. Taylor

I shall bear very much in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said. We have aircraft already available for ambulance flights from airfields and airstrips, but I shall look further into this point.