Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has expressed concern about ambulance response times across the two counties following a number of incidents in recent weeks when it took more than one hour for ambulances to reach patients.

In one case, it took an ambulance 75 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the home of a man who had suffered a heart attack, while it took almost 85 minutes for an ambulance to reach another man who had fallen ill at his home.

Deputy Smyth commented, “Unfortunately lengthy ambulance response times are all too common across Cavan and Monaghan and I am greatly concerned that people are being put at risk because ambulances are not arriving with patients within the recommended 20 minute window.  This official response time is particularly important in cardiac situations; however the fact that we have a number of cases where the actual response time is almost four times that is extremely worrying.

“I recently asked the Health Minister to outline average waiting times for Cavan and Monaghan, however the HSE response failed to give a county by county breakdown, referring only to the North Leinster region, which includes Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Louth and Meath.  While those figures show the “average” waiting time for the region meeting the official 20 minute target, the reality on the ground in Cavan and Monaghan is very different.

“Ambulances in Dublin and the commuter counties may be responding within 20 minutes, but there are obvious problems in more rural areas.  Missing turnaround targets poses a series of problems – not only does it threaten the recovery of the patient, it also makes it more difficult for the paramedics to respond to other call outs.

“The situation in Cavan and Monaghan needs to be addressed – the Minister and the HSE cannot try and cover up the lengthy response times by adding in Dublin and commuter county figures into the mix.  We need to see more investment in our ambulance service to ensure that rural areas are adequately covered and that response targets are met”.