Scotland

Lifesaving equipment stolen from ambulances

Ambulances
Image caption The Scottish Ambulance Service said stolen phones did not hold patient information

Lifesaving equipment, medicines and vehicle parts were stolen from ambulances in the past three years.

Figures uncovered by the Scottish Conservatives show that laptops, response kits, radios, phones and paperwork, were also taken in 31 different incidents.

The Scottish Ambulance Service stressed that the stolen phones did not hold patient information.

It also said the laptops had been encrypted.

A spokesman added that the paperwork theft was reported to the information commissioner for Scotland.

'Appealing rummaging'

In 2012/13, equipment was stolen from a special operations response division vehicle, while ambulances at the Scottish Ambulance Service academy in Glasgow were also targeted.

Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: "The idea of thieves targeting ambulances while paramedics attempt to save lives is sickening.

"People will be disgusted that this has occurred so many times across Scotland over the last three years.

"There may well be questions for the ambulance service about security of vehicles, but paramedics can hardly be expected to worry about break-ins while patients' lives are at risk."

He added: "Clearly the contents of ambulances make for appealing rummaging among some crooks.

"But anyone caught thieving from these vehicles is the lowest of the low, and must be treated as such by the law if and when they are caught."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "As the front line of NHS services in Scotland, our Ambulance Service respond to 700,000 calls per year, around 500,000 of which receive an emergency response.

"Delivering patient care is the absolute priority of ambulance crews and it is despicable that mindless thieves capitalise on these situations to steal equipment. Not only is the equipment on board vital to the ambulance crews but it could also be potentially dangerous in the wrong hands."

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