Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament today on an incident over the summer in which Scotland’s three dispatch centres were unable to take calls.
Staff at the Inverness call centre, which handles emergencies in Grampian and the Highlands and islands, were the first to encounter problems at 1am on July 21. Edinburgh and then Glasgow were hit later when staff were able to receive only a limited number of calls. Until the fault was fixed, emergency calls had to be handled by operators in Northern Ireland and north-west England.
The problem came to light only when Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie visited the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service last month.
She accused the Scottish Government last night of refusing to answer a series of parliamentary questions about the cause of the problem, the length of time the control rooms were down and the impact on patients.
“I was shocked to learn that all three of Scotland’s ambulance dispatch centres went down at the same time, but the worst aspect of this story is that the Scottish Government colluded in a cover-up and decided to keep it secret,” Ms Baillie said.
“It is simply not acceptable that we only found out about the collapse of the 999 call system by accident because I was on a visit to Belfast. Were the Scottish Government ever going to tell us about it?” Ms Sturgeon has always denied there was a cover-up. A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said Ms Sturgeon’s statement was in response to the request from Ms Baillie.
“The Cabinet secretary has been asked to make a statement to parliament about the situation at the ambulance service and that is what she will be doing tomorrow,” she said.
At the time, BT reported there had been a fault in the Glasgow network but no calls had been lost.
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