Trust Reacts To Allegations Over Ambulance Boat Cover

The Star of Life ambulance boat

The Star of Life ambulance boat

The South Western Ambulance Service Trust has confirmed that they have been unable to operate the Star of Life ambulance boat to provide the response off-islanders may expect.

The Trust has reacted to claims of problems with ambulance cover, made in an anonymous letter sent to Radio Scilly.

It alleges that the ambulance boat will be without any of its five coxswains – two full-time and three retained, for the next few weeks.

And it’s been alleged that the boat has been either unmanned or unable to respond to calls “a number of times” over the last year.

SWAST Head Of Operations, Steve Boucher, says claims over gaps in cover are true.

He admits that the two staff coxswains were not available from 8th to the 14th January 2013, but he says that ‘bank’ coxswains provided cover.

There was still a requirement to find an alternative boat during that week, for just over 26 hours of cover and SWAST hired the Harbourmaster’s boat, Pegasus.

There was one call-out but the response was ‘stood down.’

The Duchy boat has no casualty area or a stretcher case. SWAST accepts that it ‘differs’ from the Star of Life, but claim that the service to the off-islands would not have been compromised.

Mr Boucher says he is concerned to learn of the issues raised adding that no-one has contacted the Trust directly to air their concerns and he would encourage them to do so.

It’s the second time that allegations that the Trust is providing unacceptable levels of ambulance cover in Scilly have been made.

On December 19th, Mr Boucher denied allegations that there was no ambulance cover on St Mary’s for 4 hours but admitted that the paramedic vehicle was left unmanned for 90 minutes at the airport.

The complainant alleges that the issues are mostly related to the Ambulance Service’s habit of not paying staff and cites management issues.

SWAST say they are committed to providing a responsive, patient-centred service to Scilly, which is why they made a significant investment upgrading the ‘Star of Life’ in 2011.