Updated: 16/03/18 : 05:20:11
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Henry highlights ambulance issues

A South Sligo Councillor has raised concerns around ambulance provision within the region with the HSE at its February meeting of the HSE West Health Forum. Ballymote Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Henry tabled his question asking what plans the HSE have to improve the service for people in Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon.

“While there is a base in Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon the crews there spend nearly all of their time answering calls from Longford, Westmeath, Cavan, Mayo, Galway and several other counties out of region. This is because they are the nearest available ambulance in most cases and it has a domino effect in that South Sligo, South Leitrim and North Roscommon have no available ambulance as a result of these out of region calls” Cllr Henry informed the meeting.

“When an ambulance moves out of the area there’s no guarantee one will always move in to replace it. Sligo’s ambulances already pick up calls from all over the North West.  If an ambulance leaves a base like Boyle or Carrick on Shannon it could be four hours or more before they return leaving a large area uncovered in the event of an emergency” he added.

'Dragged'

Cllr Henry, who is a post primary teacher in Carrick-on-Shannon Community School, says that “what happens in one county affects its neighbours as ambulances are pulled out to cover emergencies so that’s why I raise the issue with Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon. If Sligo’s ambulances are on call outs, those locations become our nearest ambulances in South Sligo and they’re constantly being dragged around the country”.

Paudie O’Riordan of the Ambulance Service responded to Cllr Henry by said that “19 additional paramedic staff were assigned to the North West in 2016 & 2017 to eliminate on call”. Cllr Henry said while this is a welcome move the “recruitment of additional staff into the region and an extra one or two ambulances in outlying areas would go a long way to solving the issues I raise and reduce response times. Rural areas are responding to shortages in urban areas and as a result they have longer response times. I’m aware of close to 20 paramedics who would like to transfer to the region but can’t”.

Paudie O’Riordan said that “transfers would be accommodated where it didn’t cause shortages in the regions they are leaving and that is difficult”. He said that at the moment Galway City is his biggest concern to which Cllr Henry responded is the “reason why rural bases like Boyle and Carrick on Shannon are constantly out of their area. They’re answering emergency calls out of region and leaving a huge geographic area without an ambulance. Getting more crews and ambulances is the only solution.”