NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Apology after air ambulance sent to Shetland instead of Orkney

Scottish Air Ambulance Service plane Image copyright Mike Pennington/Geograph

NHS Grampian has apologised after an air ambulance meant to airlift a sick baby to Aberdeen was sent to Shetland instead of Orkney.

The Orkney infant needed treatment in Aberdeen last Friday, however the fixed-wing air ambulance was sent to Shetland.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said the patient was later safely transferred to Aberdeen.

NHS Grampian said a member of staff had made an error.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: "Following an initial analysis of the timeline of last Friday's events, it is clear that a member of NHS Grampian staff made an error during the process of arranging transport.

"This led to the Scottish Ambulance Service aircraft wrongly travelling to Shetland.

"We must stress that this is an extremely unusual incident. We have seen nothing to suggest this was anything other than an isolated mistake.

"NHS Grampian would like to apologise unreservedly to the family involved in this incident.

"We would also wish to apologise to our colleagues in the Scottish Ambulance Service."

'Extremely unusual'

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We received a request from a member of NHS Grampian staff in Aberdeen to retrieve a patient from hospital in Shetland.

"We dispatched our fixed-wing air ambulance from Aberdeen and it dropped off our team and equipment in Shetland.

"Shortly after arriving in Shetland, our team was advised that the patient they had been sent to retrieve was actually in Orkney.

"Once we were made aware of the error, our fixed-wing air ambulance returned to Shetland to transfer the team and equipment to Orkney.

"Our aircraft arrived in Kirkwall to retrieve the patient from Balfour Hospital. The patient arrived safely at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital."

The spokesperson added: "This is an extremely unusual occurrence and we have been reviewing the circumstances around the initial request with NHS Grampian.

"We have written to the family inviting them to meet with us to discuss the circumstances around the transfer."

Lessons to learn

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said: "This incident understandably raised serious concerns with people in Orkney, and the agencies involved were right to initiate urgent investigations.

"NHS Grampian's confirmation that this situation arose as a result of a mistake by one of its staff is helpful and I welcome the board's offer to meet with the family involved to discuss any concerns in more detail.

"The apology to the SAS crew is also entirely appropriate, given that they were clearly blameless in what happened.

"Obviously, the risk of human error is difficult to remove entirely, but if lessons can be learned from this event, it is important that this happens".

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