Vale of Leven Hospital campaigners have welcomed an boost in ambulance provision after meeting with a new NHS chief.

Talks took place between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde officials and representatives of the Hospitalwatch campaign group about ambulance capacity during the pandemic, and the arrival of new advanced paramedics that would help residents.

The Scottish Ambulance Service is to receive eight new ambulances to cover Glasgow and Lothian.

Jim Moohan, chair of Hospitalwatch, says that will give greater protection to the existing ambulance fleet for West Dunbartonshire.

As it stands, there are three ambulances and two rapid response vehicles that cover Dumbarton and the Vale.

Hospitalwatch representatives met Melanie McColgan, new chief director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, at the Vale of Leven Hospital last week.

Mr Moohan said progress had been made for the hospital, but he wants more local guarantees.

He told the Reporter: “These eight ambulances will reduce the burden of our ambulances being taken away. We need to keep our protection here.

“It sends a message to us that the ambulance cover will not be dragged out of the area. So, with the ambulances being commissioned and put in place it helps support the needs that we require.

“It is only a start to the current ambulance capacity that the Vale of Leven currently faces.”

The meeting between the two bodies discussed the option of investing in seven advanced paramedics for the hospital.

This would release the pressure on the ambulance crew as the paramedic could prescribe medication and administer interventions.

Mr Moohan added: “This is a positive sign as these paramedics would be working to complement the Alexandria health board and reserve our vital ambulances for red alerts in the community.”

The campaign group also discussed the measures in place for a second wave of Covid-19 cases and NHS officials confirmed that the hospital is ‘stable but relatively quiet’

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said: “I have been pursuing this with the ambulance service for some time, especially as the ambulances we have tend to take people to hospitals outwith the area, and it can be many hours before they return.

“It is essential that this area has adequate levels of cover both from our first responder service and from paramedics on our ambulances.”

Chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service Pauline Howie said they would be able to boost capacity in two of the busiest regions in the country.

She said: "This winter is expected to see increased demand on healthcare services across the country and our top priority continues to be our patients and staff.

“We continue to recruit at pace across the country to strengthen our dedicated workforce - a workforce who have all been remarkable this year.”

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We continue to support the service and ensure they have the right resources in place across Scotland to continue to deal with increasing demand.”