Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor is calling on the Government to set out its plan for the future of the Carlow Ambulance Base currently located on the grounds of St. Dympna’s Hospital.

Senator Murnane O’Connor raised the issue in the Seanad with Minister of State at the Department of Health Catherine Byrne TD. The Carlow Senator received a reassurance from the Minister of State that there will be no disruption to emergency ambulance services to the people of Carlow.

“The National Ambulance Service currently operates a base on the grounds of St. Dympna’s Hospital in Carlow. This is a vital asset for Carlow and the wider South-East region as it allows ambulances to reach patients as quickly as possible,” said Senator Murnane O’Connor.

“The facilities in the current base are substandard and woefully inadequate. I want to praise the staff at the facility who are doing Trojan work in very demanding circumstances. I have raised this issue in the Seanad on a number of occasions and I have also raised it directly with the Minister of Health Simon Harris. I have pointed out that there are huge pressures on the 18 staff currently operating out of the two portacabins in the base. A health and safety audit was carried out on the premises and serious deficiencies were identified. We are still waiting for the Government to address these issues.

“There was serious concern that the Government would use the health and safety audit as an opportunity to close the ambulance base. This is something which Fianna Fáil simply would not stand over and I welcome the fact that the base in Carlow remains operational. However the Government needs to set out an investment programme for the base. The current situation, where the staff are operating out of dilapidated portacabins, simply cannot continue.

“I believe the Government needs to examine the prospect of renovating an old section of St. Dympna’s Hospital for use by the National Ambulance Service. This would allow the staff at the base to have access to suitable shower, changing and storage facilities. It would also ensure that the base remains a permanent fixture in Carlow, something which is not guaranteed with a portacabin arrangement.

“This is something which I will continue to pursue with the Government. We must secure the future of the ambulance base in Carlow,” concluded Senator Murnane O’Connor.