“Individual staff error” blamed for air ambulance islands mix up

The Air Ambulance Service’s King Air plane was called to Orkney but travelled to Shetland earlier this year.

NHS Grampian has  said “individual staff error” was to blame for an incident earlier this year, which saw an air ambulance travel to Shetland instead of Orkney.

In March, one of the Scottish Ambulance Service’s fixed-wing air ambulances, which had an incubator on board, was called to the aid of an infant in Orkney but ended up in Shetland.

The youngster was later transferred to hospital in Aberdeen and an investigation into the incident launched.

Following this investigation, a spokeswoman from NHS Grampian said this week that it was clear that the incident was the result of individual staff error and not symptomatic of wider issues.

The spokeswoman also said that all staff have been reminded about the importance of clearly establishing transfer requirements and communicating these to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, who called for the investigation following the incident, 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.”