Halfway through a Monday afternoon in mid-December, there were 14 ambulances queuing outside A&E at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary – over half of the available fleet at the city’s main ambulance station.

While shadowing a shift with paramedic David Reid and technician Aaron McGregor, the unprecedented challenges the service now faces became immediately clear.

Latest figures show that in the week up to 4 December, one in 10 ambulances in Scotland waited almost two hours outside a hospital because there was no space in the emergency department.

That is a two hour wait where a patient, who may be seriously unwell, is unable to get the care they need, and possibly 10 hours or more for a patient who has called 999 to find there are no ambulances free.

When I first started reporting on the NHS six years ago, such delays at emergency departments would have been headline news, but it happens so frequently now that it is barely covered.

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