HUMZA Yousaf has been accused of "failing to act" over "dangerous" cuts to ambulance services across Scotland.

The Health Secretary was told last week to intervene in the developments which come after a number of Scots have died while facing long waits for help.

Ambulance staffing rotas have been changed and the number of crews on duty reduced across Scotland, including Glasgow, Cumbernauld, the Vale of Leven and Prestonpans. 

Scottish Labour today stepped up their warnings over the reforms which have caused outrage among paramedics. 

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“These planned cuts are dangerous and wrong-headed and must be stopped now," the party's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said.

“Ambulance services are in disarray and ambulance staff have been faced with soaring workloads. To cut services at this time is potentially deadly and will leave several communities without the support they need."

She added: “All winter we have heard of people dying while waiting on ambulances – the idea that we would cut ambulance crews at this time is unfathomable.

"Paramedics have said that these changes are wrong and potentially dangerous. So far, Humza Yousaf has entirely failed to act but he must listen to them. The minister must act now before lives are lost.”

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The opposition party's call comes as paramedics have reacted angrily to news that the Scottish Ambulance Service plans to cut crews and to reduce the number working nightshift in some areas to only one crew despite a number of tragedies related to long waits.

While ambulance turnaround times have improved since the autumn, lengthy waits have been recorded across Scotland, with a maximum turnaround time of over seven hours recorded at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Stations in Paisley and Greenock will also be hit by changes, which come in the wake of a Demand and Capacity Review carried out by a private contractor on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

One member of the service's staff told Glasgow Live last week: "The review was carried out years before the pandemic and the situation has completely changed by then. Now, we are overrun and barely get breaks. The changes will mean only one crew covering a stretch of the city which is ridiculous."

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In September, The Herald revealed that 65-year-old Gerard Brown died during a wait of more than 40 hours for an ambulance in Glasgow.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs at the time that emergency services staff were under 'acute pressure' and called in the Army to help support the service after she apologised for delays.

In November, Deputy First Minister John Swinney apologised to the family of a a second man who died after waiting five hours for an ambulance in Glasgow, calling it was "unacceptable".

Richard Brown, 55, died alone in his Glasgow tenement building even though his neighbour had repeatedly called for an ambulance.

At First Minister's Questions, Mr Swinney said at the time: "I want to express my sympathy to Mr Brown's family because Mr Brown should not have had the experience that he had and I am very sorry Mr Brown's family are enduring the added agony that they are having to endure in addition to the loss of Mr Brown."

He said an investigation into the delay had been launched, adding he was aware of the "enormous pressure" placed on the ambulance service and blamed Covid for the level of demand on the healthcare system.

He said the Government had provided an extra £20million to support the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Responding to Labour's intervention last week a Scottish Government spokesman underlined the pressures Covid had put on the ambulance service.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest shock the NHS has suffered in its 73-year existence and has heaped pressure on our ambulance service and wider NHS," he said.

"The Scottish Ambulance Service is working closely with health boards to reduce turnaround times to receive patients into emergency departments as quickly as possible.

“Despite the challenges, including serving some of the most rural areas in the UK, in 2020/21 our ambulance crews responded to over 70% of their highest priority calls in under ten minutes and over 99% in under 30 minutes."

He added: “The service is looking at measures to meet requirements when patient demand is greatest which may result in roster shift changes and we thank all staff for their dedication in continuing to address the challenges the pandemic has caused.

“The Health Secretary has set out further investment of £20 million as part of the £1 billion NHS recovery plan to introduce new ambulances and almost 300 additional staff throughout Scotland to ensure the Service is working as efficiently as possible and have resources in place to meet both current and projected future demand.”