Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has written to the Scottish Ambulance Service and Bond Air Services regarding the issue of air ambulance helicopter cover to the Hebrides and other Scottish islands following incidents where helicopters have not been able to fly to Barra during the night due to alleged lack of pilot qualifications.

Mr MacNeil said:

“It is a matter of some alarm that has come to my attention in the last few days, that on no fewer than four occasions in the last six months, the air ambulance helicopter has been unable to come into Barra at night due to pilots, it has been alleged to me, not being certified to service the island in the hours of darkness.

“Quite what this would be is unclear. But if this is the case, we need to understand why this certification is not in place and ensure remedial action is taken as a matter of priority so that the air ambulance cover for Barra, and perhaps other Scottish islands, is 24/7 as would be expected.

“Whether this would have affected the four previous cases will be of concern to relatives and friends but the crux of the matter is that an air ambulance service should be able, weather permitting, to access islands at all times of the day and night.

“Further to enquiring directly with the helicopter providers and the Scottish Ambulance Service, I have notified Health Minister, Alex Neil of my concerns.

“We cannot have a situation where we have a fifth such event.  If an air ambulance is required, by its very nature it is emergency transportation and avoidable delays are totally unacceptable.