Dumbarton's MSP has called for "desperately needed investment" in the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Jackie Baillie has spoken out after a Freedom of Information request revealed that thousands of patients whose illness was categorised as "immediately life threatening" waited longer than the target time of under eight minutes for an ambulance.

The figures released by the ambulance service show that more than 23,000 patients with life threatening conditions waited eight minutes or longer for an ambulance during 2018.

Of those, 612 patients waited longer than 30 minutes, 75 patients waited longer than an hour and five patients waited longer than two hours for an emergency ambulance.

The response also shows that 23,845 patients in this category waited longer than eight minutes in 2017; 48,352 in 2016; 48,505 in 2015 and 39,590 in 2014.

The MSP says emergency calls were re-categorised after 2016 which may explain the dramatically improved performance in ambulances meeting their targets.

She added: “Paramedics and our health care staff work hard to ensure that patients’ needs are met every single day, but demand on the service is increasing.

“Patients are being left in pain and distress waiting for ambulances due to shortages in the system.

"It is clear that investment in the Scottish Ambulance Service is desperately needed.

“It is simply not acceptable to have thousands of patients with life threatening conditions waiting for longer than eight minutes for an ambulance.

“It is time the SNP invested properly in our whole healthcare system, including the Scottish Ambulance Service, to ensure patients get the care that they need and NHS staff are properly supported.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson told the Reporter: “Despite continuous increased demand, ambulance crews reached 75 per cent of patients in under 10 minutes and 96 per cent within 20 minutes across the whole of Scotland in 2017, saving more lives year on year.

“We have invested almost £900 million in the ambulance service in the last four years and have committed to supporting the training of an additional 1,000 paramedics over the course of this parliament, building on the 17.6 per cent rise in ambulance service staffing over the last decade.”

The ambulance service is currently reviewing demand and capacity at a national level to continue to ensure resources are in place to meet the needs of local communities.