CONCERNS have been raised about ambulance response times in Inverclyde.

New figures reveal that only just over half of the 1,381 life threatening incidents between October 2017 and September last year were responded to within eight minutes - 53 per cent.

The information, obtained by the Inverclyde Liberal Democrats under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, reveals the average response time was nine minutes.

Bosses at the Scottish Ambulance Service say the eight-minute target response time is no longer used.

They now have separate targets for two categories of immediately life threatening calls.

Bosses have refused to answer how many times in the past 12 months there were no ambulances available at the Greenock depot to deal with 999 calls.

Their FOI response simply stated: "If there are no resources immediately available at Greenock Ambulance Station, resources will be deployed from other nearby areas to attend emergency 999 calls."

The Inverclyde Liberal Democrats have now called for action to improve response times.

Local LibDem vice-chair Alasdair Higgins said: “I was unfortunate enough to require an emergency ambulance following a bad fall last spring.

“The crew who responded to my accident were very professional and dedicated - I am extremely grateful.

“However, these response times are concerning, and I wonder if ambulance service management could do more to support the local hard-working paramedics and their teams."

Over a typical seven-day period there are three ambulances at Greenock station on day shift between 7am and 7pm and one on the 9am-5pm shift.

One ambulance is typically on the back shift between 6pm and 1am and two ambulances cover night shift between 7pm and 7am.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Ambulance Service defended the service saying that more lives are being saved.

They said: “We always aim to respond quickly to the sickest patients, but for other patients we know we can achieve a better outcome by sending the right, not necessarily the nearest, resources.

“Our call handlers now spend more time understanding the needs of individual patients and whilst this has led to a slight increase in wait times for patients whose lives are not immediately at risk we are saving more lives.

"In 2017 we saved the lives of an additional 62 patients who had suffered an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

“We are in the process of recruiting an additional 1,000 paramedics by 2021, which will ensure we can continue to improve our patient response times.”