How reliable is the BBC News service where you live?


On the Scotland website, ‘How fast is the ambulance service where you live?’

When you look further, you get this puzzling map:


At first sight, you think, great, response times in Scotland are pretty good and maybe they are (Scottish average is 6m 57s) but nearly all of it is coded ‘No data’ or ‘Few callouts.’ You don’t need to have done the research methods module to realise that this is utterly meaningless for the Scottish context.

However, out of curiosity, I thought I’d try KA7:


Good news, 6m 43s for South Ayrshire, well within the 6-8 recommended range and less than the Scotland average of 6m 57s. Wait, ‘Based on a low number of callouts?’ In a population of around 200 000 with Ayr at over 50 000, there’s a low number of callouts? I can’t relax in my garden for the regular wail of sirens.

Just how useful is this survey for readers in Scotland?

The BBC found:

Critically injured patients in rural areas are at risk due to the time it takes the ambulance service to reach them, a BBC investigation has found.

Those in some rural communities are waiting more than 20 minutes on average for help for cardiac arrests, seizures and life-threatening injuries.

Wouldn’t you need a reconditioned and adapted Harrier Jump Jet with room for a paramedic to get to some rural homes in 20m? Ayr General A&E to Straiton or Barr (I’ve driven these) would take at least 40 minutes unless you wanted to leave more death on the road than you hoped to prevent when you got there. The country is full of locations where 20 minutes is just ridiculous. Shouldn’t there be an organised emergency service by local GPs or nurses for remote places?



7 thoughts on “How reliable is the BBC News service where you live?

  1. Contrary March 6, 2019 / 9:10 am

    What a bizarre thing the BBC is. Did I not hear that in fact in Scotland, the emergency services policy is of prioritising emergency call-outs – so if you are having a heart attack you are going to get an ambulance first before someone who has scraped their knee (I don’t know this, I am making assumptions on how they prioritise), and it has been successful – so average call-out times aren’t really that useful? You might be waiting for hours in agony with your scraped knee, but meanwhile someone’s life is being saved, its one of these things, we just don’t have infinite resources.

    You are right about rural times John, it is a sad fact that instant expert medical care is not going to happen,,, is there a solution to this? Small paramedic stations scattered throughout the countryside? A voluntary service (like fire officers) that are locals more highly trained in extended first aid to help? Having been brought up in a rural community, it was a fact of life that if something catastrophic happened, you were unlikely to get to the hospital in time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Legerwood March 6, 2019 / 11:03 am

      “”A voluntary service (like fire officers) that are locals more highly trained…”

      Like the First Responders Service? Not sure to what extent it covers all areas of Scotland but it does exist and seems to function reasonably well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bigjon999 March 6, 2019 / 10:00 am

    I’d just spotted the same BBC article and was, likewise, bemused by the “lack of data” for most of Scotland. Suggests the methodology was not comparable with the data provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service. I’m sure there is adequate data to do a decent analysis of Scottish-wide call out times for high-priority call-outs, just the BBC couldn’t be a**ed to work it out.
    Anyway interesting that almost all the Scottish areas that did have adequate data showed the lowest time for waiting. A pat on the back for the SAS and the way they are modernising their response system.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alasdair Angus Macdonald March 6, 2019 / 10:11 am

    I suspect that the purpose of the article is to enable the BBC and other journalist to engage in BLAMING as an end in itself. By using an average, then, by definition half of whatever data are being measured are on the ‘wrong’ side of the mean. Hence, there is a constant supply of people or things to BLAME.


  4. Lollysmum March 6, 2019 / 10:19 am

    Some areas have First Responders schemes. Volunteers who provide immediate aid in their local area. We are trained by the Scottish Ambulance Service to assess for medical conditions. As first on the scene we are able to confirm to Ambulance control whether an ambulance is needed & priority.

    We carry a huge bag of equipment including a defibrillator & oxygen. Our local surgery provides cover during working hours & First Responders cover out of hours /overnight/weekends on a rota basis.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s