The Health Service Executive (HSE) has defended a decision to leave the east Clare area without an emergency ambulance after a paramedic was sent to another county to report for duty there.
As a result, the ambulance base at Scarriff and the entire east Clare area was left without local ambulance cover while the nearest ambulance, if available, was at least 40 minutes away.
On August 8th last, only one paramedic was available for the duty at the ambulance base in Scarriff Co Clare while in Nenagh, three personnel were on leave on the same evening.
Without a second paramedic available for cover in Scarriff, the lone staff member there was sent to Nenagh in Co Tipperary to make up a crew for an ambulance there.
No cover was available for any of the four personnel effectively leaving ambulances of the mid-west’s 16 emergency vehicles off the road. As a result there was no 24-hour cover from Scarriff on the day in question.
If there was an emergency in Whitegate, Co Clare, an ambulance would have had to travel almost 50 kilometres from Ennis or 56 kilometres from Nenagh and a further 50 kilometres to University Hospital Limerick with a patient.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD and east Clare native Timmy Dooley has said: “It’s a disgrace that any patient in East Clare should have to wait up to an hour for an ambulance to reach them and another hour to get to hospital. This is not acceptable.”
“There was a firm commitment during the reconfiguration of hospital services in the mid west that there would be full ambulance cover 24 hours a days, 7 days a week in east Clare. It was on the basis of that commitment that the A&E Departments in Ennis and Nenagh were closed.
This was all supposed to be done in the best interest of patient care but this government has failed to fulfil those commitments. This government has failed to provide the necessary resources to provide an adequate ambulance service or to facilitate the increased throughput of patients at University Hospital Limerick,” Mr Dooley said.
“I want to see full and complete 24/7 ambulance cover at all times in Scarriff and all stations in Clare. We are not looking for anything that hasn’t already been there but the government continues to strip away these services,” he added.
The HSE has said: “The National Ambulance service operates on an area basis, not a local or regional basis which allows for the optimal use of resources at all times. This allows for the dynamic deployment of resources, when and where they are required.
“All calls are triaged using an internationally recognised system (AMPDS) and the control staff can provide medical assistance to callers when required,” the HSE said.