Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health Senator Marc Mac Sharry has expressed grave concern at shocking new figures revealing serious deficiencies within the ambulance service in the West. According to the statistics obtained by the Irish Independent, less than 30% of ambulances in the West of Ireland reach the scene within the target of 8 minutes for patients with life-threatening illnesses.
Senator Mac Sharry commented, “These figures are evidence that cuts to the health services across the West are having a direct impact on frontline services and are putting lives at risk. In the Western counties, less than a third of ambulance calls to potentially life-threatening situations are reaching patients within the recommended 8 minutes. That’s compared to nearly two thirds of ambulances arriving on time in the North Leinster region.
“It is quite clear that the closure and downgrading of hospitals in the West is hitting frontline services. Patients in Roscommon no longer have a 24 hour Accident & Emergency Department, so ambulances attending emergencies are redirected to hospitals in other counties. The closure of community hospital beds, the cuts to Emergency Departments and hospital budgets is putting enormous pressure on emergency services in this region.
“The HSE and the Minister for Health James Reilly appear to be in complete denial about the impact of cuts to our health services. The bottom line is that lives are being put at risk due to a lack of resources. The fact that the HSE says it had no record of any patient being adversely affected by a late arrival is a complete farce. Timing is critical when it comes to treating health emergencies.
“I am calling for a full statement from Minister Reilly on this immediately. The Minister must outline his plans in the Dáil to improve the response times of ambulances, particularly in the West, so that patients in emergency situations are given the best possible chance of recovery.”