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Decision Report 201706768

  • Case ref:
  • Date:
    November 2018
  • Body:
    Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Sector:
  • Outcome:
    Some upheld, recommendations
  • Subject:
    failure to send ambulance / delay in sending ambulance


Mrs C complained that the ambulance service delayed in sending an ambulance to her daughter (Miss A) when Miss A dislocated her knee. The ambulance took almost an hour to arrive, which the ambulance service acknowledged was much longer than they would have expected. They apologised for the delay and explained it was due to a lack of resource, and the need to prioritise life threatening situations.

We took independent advice from a paramedic. We found that the request was assessed and prioritised appropriately. We were satisfied that the ambulance service responded reasonably to the request, and could not have done anything differently with the resources available to them at the time. We did not uphold this complaint.

Mrs C also complained about the time taken to respond to her complaint; the lack of interim update which led to her having to chase for a response; and also the adequacy of the response in addressing her concerns. We were content that the response was a reasonable and proportionate response to Mrs C's complaint. However, we were critical that the ambulance service failed to adhere to the NHS Scotland Model Complaints Handling Procedure in that they did not issue their response within 20 working days, and did not proactively contact Mrs C in the interim to explain the delay and agree a revised response timescale. We upheld this complaint.


What we asked the organisation to do in this case:

  • Apologise to Mrs C for failing to adhere to the terms of the NHS Scotland Model Complaints Handling Procedure when dealing with her complaint. The apology should meet the standards set out in the SPSO guidelines on apology available at www.spso.org.uk/leaflets-and-guidance.

In relation to complaints handling, we recommended:

  • SAS should adhere to the terms of the NHS Scotland Model Complaints Handling Procedure when dealing with complaints – complaints handling staff should be reminded of these terms and the findings of this investigation should be brought to their attention.

We have asked the organisation to provide us with evidence that they have implemented the recommendations we have made on this case by the deadline we set.

Updated: December 2, 2018