NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Human error blamed for 'wrong island' air ambulance

Scottish Air Ambulance Service plane Image copyright Mike Pennington/Geograph

A mix-up which saw an air ambulance being sent to Shetland instead of Orkney to pick up a sick baby was down to human error, an investigation found.

The child needed to be transferred to Aberdeen for treatment in March.

The fixed-wing aircraft was initially sent to Shetland by mistake, although the patient was later safely transferred.

NHS Grampian said that after a full investigation it was clear the mistake was "not symptomatic of wider issues".

A statement added: "We have reminded all staff about the importance of clearly establishing transfer requirements and communicating these to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).

"We would take this opportunity to apologise again to the family involved for any distress caused."

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said: "For islanders, the air ambulance service can be the difference between life and death.

"News that an emergency flight meant for Orkney was sent instead to Shetland, therefore, caused understandable public concern locally.

"Thankfully, the consequences of this incident did not prove lasting, but it was right that NHS Grampian and SAS undertook an urgent investigation.

"NHS Grampian has confirmed that human error was to blame and taken steps to avoid any repeat in future. That is welcome, as indeed is their apology to the family affected."

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