§ Mr. Oswald
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is contemplating any changes in the administration of the Scottish ambulance service.
§ Mr. Ross
Since 1948 the ambulance service in Scotland has been administered in terms of a contract with the St. Andrew's Ambulance Association and the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society by a joint central committee consisting of representatives of the two voluntary aid societies and the Scottish Home and Health Department. I am most grateful to the societies for all that they have done to make the Scottish Ambulance Service as efficient as it is today.256W
However, the present service, which is wholly financed from the Exchequer, contains no representative on its controlling body of the main users of the service, of which the hospitals are by far the largest. Discussions have, therefore, been taking place with the two voluntary aid societies to consider alterations in the terms of the contract to take account of this point and to strengthen the regional machinery of the service without losing the very real benefits obtained from central administration. This should result in an improved service to patients.
As a result of these discussions, I am sorry to say that the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society has decided that it must withdraw as an organisation from running the service, mainly because it would be contrary to international Red Cross principles for it to take part in running a service which is subject to Government direction; it is willing, however, to continue to assist in its administration. The St. Andrew's Ambulance Association, however, has agreed in principle to a revised contract under which the joint central committee administering the service would consist of two independent members appointed by me, one of whom would be chairman; representatives of the Association; representatives of the regional hospital boards; a representative general practitioner and medical officer of health; and one representative of the Red Cross. The Scottish Home and Health Department will no longer provide members for the joint central committee but will appoint three assessors to give it any help they can. The committee will be subject to my direction in the same way as other administrative bodies in the health field and senior appointments within the service will require my approval. Detailed arrangements for strengthening the regional organisation of the service will be considered when the new committee is in operation. I should emphasise that this change in the administrative structure of the service does not in itself involve any changes in its day-to-day running.
The new arrangements will operate from 1st April when the full title of the service will be the St. Andrew's Scottish Ambulance Service.
Finally, I should like to thank the two voluntary aid societies for their help 257W and co-operation both over the past seat belts themselves. I am advised that eighteen years and during the negotiations leading up to this change. I look increase forward to their continued help on the this risk. lines I have indicated.