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Human error caused air ambulance mix-up

| Written by Shetland News

AN INVESTIGATION has concluded that an individual staff error, rather than any systematic failing, caused an air ambulance to be mistakenly sent to Shetland instead of Orkney earlier this year.

NHS Grampian faced stern criticism after the 17 March incident, which saw an air ambulance despatched to Lerwick rather than Kirkwall to pick up an infant for transfer to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

It resulted in a delay of several hours, though thankfully there were no lasting consequences, and prompted an apology to the affected family from the health board.

The call-out came just after 7pm that day and a Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) team landed in Shetland just before 10pm. It was then recognised that the fixed-wing ambulance had been sent 120 miles further north than intended.

The air ambulance was redirected and arrived in Kirkwall at 1.44am, with the infant eventually arriving in Aberdeen four hours later.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the investigation had now been completed and ruled the mix-up was the result of “individual staff error” and was not symptomatic of any wider issues.

She reiterated the health board’s apology to the family for any distress caused and said NHS Grampian had “reminded all staff about the importance of clearly establishing transfer requirements and communicating these to the SAS”.

An SAS spokesman said it was satisfied that the service “took appropriate action at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure patient safety was not compromised”.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said the incident “caused understandable public concern locally”. He welcomed confirmation that human error was to blame along with NHS Grampian’s apology to the family.

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