The GSD have been informed that two GHA transport ambulances have been out of action for several months and the GHA are relying on a 15-year St John’s ambulance and crew to transport patients to Spain.
Gibraltar must have a fully functional and state of the art ambulance resource to provide for transportation of patients to Spain. We call on the Government to set out what contingency measures are in place to mitigate risks to patients as a result of a lack of working ambulances.
On a related issue, as a result of Brexit, GHA ambulances with non-Spanish resident paramedics and medical crew were unable to transport routine (non-emergency) patients to Spain unless all members of the crew had Spanish contracts of employment, the same rule applied to St John’s Ambulance personnel.
The GSD are also informed that all non-emergency/routine trips are, in the main, being dealt with by Spanish ambulances companies, whilst a narrow gateway exists to allow for GHA ambulances to transport patients to Spain in emergency situations only and where documentary evidence is provided to Spanish officials at the border from by a medical professional to support the urgent transit.
Shadow Minister for Health Elliott Phillips MP said:
” It is crucial that we have fully functional and state of the art ambulances which can be deployed in emergency and non-emergency situations. Ambulances are a critical and essential resource for our hard-working paramedics and other first responders, and it is shocking to hear that two of our ambulances have been out of action for several months”
A second, and equally important issue, arises in the context of how GHA ambulances should be operating in Spain. We have now been living with the consequences of Brexit for several years and the failure of the Government to get a safe, secure, and beneficial treaty is palpable. It is clear that the failure in political leadership is having a real impact on the ability of our ambulances and GHA staff to properly deal with transportation of patients to medical facilities across our land boarder.
So important was the matter back in March 2022 that the Government issued a press statement where they said that it would raise the matter with the British and Spanish Governments. The Government said:
“Given that the issue at stake is the health of citizens, and the potential for life or death situations to emerge, the Government is extremely concerned at these developments and have already raised the matter at a higher level both with the United Kingdom and with Spain”
Elliott Phillips MP went on to say:
” It is clear that despite raising this important issue regarding the transport of patients across the border with their counterparts in both Britain and Spain over a year ago, no lasting and sustainable solution has yet been found. Gibraltar needs a gateway that allows ambulances and their crews to work across the border with ease in non-emergency and emergency situations. We need to have a protocol in place which strips our red tape. It is deeply disappointing that no arrangements have been put in place to resolve this longstanding issue. We call on the Government to issue an urgent statement on this matter”