THE Ambulance Service is "completely overwhelmed" in Fife which is seeing a knock-on effect on A&E services, a Fife MSP has claimed.

Murdo Fraser MSP has welcomed news that the Army are set to step in an effort to alleviate pressures however has accused the Scottish Government of being "too slow to respond" to the crisis.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced a range of measures last month aimed at addressing system pressures and tackling current waiting times.

This included assistance from more than 100 military personnel with 88 drivers and 15 support staff drafted in across the country.

As well as slamming the slow action to deal with the issue, Mr Fraser has also hit out at comments made by Mr Yousaf who said people should "think twice" before calling an ambulance.

“There have been far too many heartbreaking stories across Scotland of people waiting too long for an ambulance," said Mr Fraser. "Our frontline ambulance personnel in Fife are completely overwhelmed and that has had a knock-on effect on other services, such as A&E.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf were too slow in getting on top of this crisis in our ambulance service. It was reckless to hear Humza Yousaf tell people in Fife to think twice before calling an ambulance.

“It is extremely welcome that the British Army are now on hand to support our ambulance service in Fife, which should ease some of the pressure.

“Humza Yousaf needs to maximise the use of our Armed Forces and ensure that ambulance services and personnel in Fife have every resource they need.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed the armed forces would decide the time period for which they are able to provide support.

"There will be an opportunity to keep it under review and we have secured necessary funding to allow them to provide support for longer if required," added the spokesperson.

“The global pandemic has created the most challenging crisis in the history of the NHS. Ambulance services around the UK, as well as the wider NHS, are experiencing unprecedented demand – largely because of COVID-19, but also due to a combination of increasingly complex cases, and exceptionally busy emergency departments.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said they were "extremely aware" of the demands their hard-working staff were under in the current situation and stressed that their wellbeing was one of their top priorities.

"Lengthy patient handover times at hospitals continue to be a major issue and we are continuing to work with health boards across Scotland to try and minimise these," said the spokesperson.

“Targeted military personnel are providing additional capacity to assist with service pressures, particularly around our lower acuity emergency and timed admissions calls, for example falls, and they being used flexibly to respond to anticipated and planned pressures across the country, including A&E, Urgent and Patient Transport Service (PTS) responses.

“Recruitment and training of new ambulance staff also continues across the country at pace to provide additional capacity going forward. More than 100 additional trained staff will commence on shifts in October, including six trainee technicians in Fife.

"In addition, 10 trainee technicians and seven ambulance care assistants will begin their training over the coming months and will be based in Fife.”