An investigation has been launched after an ambulance took 22 minutes to reach a dying pensioner.
Ernie Rutkiewicz, 82, from Glasgow, choked on his dinner last Thursday and died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
The crew which attended could not be assigned to the emergency any earlier as they were on a meal break.
Under rules, ambulance crews are entitled to a half-hour break during their shift and cannot be disturbed during that period.
The meal break rule was introduced in Scotland as part of a UK-wide initiative called Agenda for Change, which affects NHS pay and conditions.
This is a sad story and I feel very sorry for the patient and his family.
Once more it is meal breaks that are 'to blame' for someone dying rather than there being a lack of ambulances to cover for the legally mandated rest breaks. The ambulance crew involved would not have even known about the call. For all intents and purposes during a rest break the crew are not being paid and are therefore not on duty.
(And it's a 'rest break', not a 'meal break', there is nothing making the employer provide an ability to eat food).
However, the last time I saw a story like this, the newspaper involved claimed that two ambulance crews were on a rest break – when actually their vehicles were broken and they were off the road waiting for them to be fixed.
I've just done four twelve hour shifts, I've only had one rest break on all those shifts. Most folks work eight hour days and would expect a break at some point.
My next set of shifts is eight hours long, and they are an absolute doddle considering our 'normal' shifts are twelve hours long.
I wonder if the investigation into this particular case will ask what other ambulances were doing? Were they covering GP who refuses to see patients? Were they rushing through the streets to a drunkard in the street? Were they going to someone who wanted an excuse to knock off work early? Where they running to someone who'd taken too much heroin? Were they trying to find a hoaxed call? Were they going to someone who just wasn't home?
It's too easy to suggest that the reason this man died was because of rest breaks as opposed to the much more complicated mixture of a lack of ambulances, too many inappropriate calls and that we are doing everyone else's job these days.
But that is less likely to 'sell' the news.