I put on record my admiration for the dedication of ambulance crews. Crew members and patients have contacted me to express concerns. A crewman from the Scottish Borders shed light on why ambulance crews in the area are taking longer to answer calls, when he said:
"It is definitely a management issue. Crews are being taken from the Borders up to Edinburgh to work. It doesn't seem to matter what is being done on your part, or the press. The service still continues to send crews out of their area."
In the light of a fairly recent case in the Borders that almost had very bad consequences, does the
I prefer to improve the service, which is precisely what we have been doing. The average response time for ambulances in Scotland has come down to 8.4 minutes—the fastest it has ever been in Scotland. I give credit to the Scottish Ambulance Service. It would be possible for this Government to claim some of that credit by pointing to the increased resources for the service, because some 412 additional paramedics and technicians have entered the service since 2002. However, I want to give the credit to the people who work hard to ensure that ambulance services are available.
I also pay tribute to the people who work in the service in the Borders and in Dumfries and Galloway, where ambulance response times have been reduced again this year and are almost at the Scottish average, despite the rural nature of the area. Those people are doing a terrific job. Christine Grahame's constant attempts to run them down are unbecoming of her.