Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher has called on the Health Minister to ensure that the recommendations contained in a review on ambulance response times are implemented without delay. Senator Gallagher raised the issue in the Seanad this week, highlighting a number of serious incidents in Monaghan and Dundalk over the past six months.
“Communities in rural areas are becoming increasingly worried about the ability of the ambulance service to respond to emergencies. The national target is 20 minutes, but there have been a number of cases in recent months where it has taken an ambulance over an hour to reach a call out. In July this year, there were two cases involving members of one family in Co. Monaghan where it took one hour and 15 minutes, and one hour and 25 minutes for the ambulance to arrive at their homes. This is simply unacceptable” said Senator Gallagher.
“I have been contacted by people who are genuinely worried about the length of time it’s taking ambulances to get to them. Not only have they lost the Emergency Department at Monaghan General Hospital, now we have a situation where ambulances are unable to reach people within the 20 minute response time. We need to see this issue addressed as a matter of urgency before lives are lost.
“Minister Finian McGrath confirmed to me in the Seanad Chamber that the National Ambulance Service in the North East region missed its target time in August. Measures must now be taken to ensure that we have enough vehicles and personnel in the region. Minister McGrath says additional funding “will be made available for the continued development of the NAS in 2018 and that this will be set out in the national service plan 2018”. This government is great at announcements but poor on delivery. It is essential that this money is rolled out without delay so that improvements in this essential service can be delivered.
“People living in rural areas should not be disadvantaged because they don’t live in a town or a city. Rural dwellers should be entitled to the same standard of care as those in urban areas. We need to see a concerted effort from Minister Simon Harris and his Cabinet colleagues to ensure that additional resources are allocated the National Ambulance Service to allow it to meets its targets and deliver a quality service to everyone”.