HC Deb 05 July 1993 vol 228 cc49-50W
Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what arrangements he intends to put in place to secure the emergency carriage by air ambulances in Scotland of blood and other emergency medical products; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what were the medical qualifications of the Scottish ambulance service staff who dealt with the request for the transport of emergency blood products by air ambulance to Shetland on 17 June;

(3) what arrangements were in place on 17 June for persons to contact the medical director of the Scottish ambulance services by telephone out of office hours, and what changes are proposed in these arrangements.

Mr. Lang

[holding answer 24 June 1993]: It is for the Scottish blood transfusion service to supply blood or blood products requested by hospitals and to decide on the appropriate transport arrangements for delivery of these both for routine situations and in emergencies.

Air ambulances are primarily tasked to collect or carry patients to hospital at the request of clinicians and are equipped accordingly. In a life saving situation and where it would be sensible and cost effective to do so, there is no reason why an air ambulance should not be used to carry blood or blood products for emergency medical treatment. This is a matter for arrangement between the Scottish blood transfusion service and the Scottish ambulance service which are divisions of the Common Services Agency.

A protocol has now been agreed to the effect that the Scottish ambulance service will transport blood or blood products by air ambulance when in the opinon of any clinician in the Scottish national blood transfusion service there is a serious risk to life and there is no other sensible or reasonable option available. The ambulance service will give such requests priority subject only to the emergency evacuation of patients.

Ambulance control staff do not have any medical qualifications but are able to seek medical advice when required from the medical director of the Scottish ambulance service who is an accident and emergency consultant and is on call 24 hours a day by radiopager.

In the event that he is unavailable, there is an arrangement with the accident and emergency department at the Aberdeen Royal infirmary to provide medical advice to the air desk controller. The arrangements on 17 June were in accordance with these procedures. No further changes are currently proposed but the position is kept under review.

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