Minister accused of being 'out of touch with needs of people in his constituency'
Published 02/10/2012 | 17:00
THE CUTS to ambulance hours in Swords first revealed some weeks ago in the Fingal Independent have been raised in the Seanad where Minister James Reilly seemed unaware of the crisis in the local service.
This lead a Fianna Fáil senator to accuse the minister of being 'out of touch with the needs of people in his own constituency'.
Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O'Brien has said that under questioning from him in the Seanad, it emerged that Minister Reilly was unaware of the problem and was therefore, 'totally out of touch with the needs of people in his own constituency'. Senator O'Brien questioned Minister Reilly in the Seanad this week about the cuts to ambulance services in north county Dublin, which came into effect on September 4. As first reported in this newspaper, the cut means there is no longer a HSE ambulance operating from Swords between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on a Tuesday.
If there are any emergencies during this time, patients across north county Dublin are served by an ambulance from Loughlinstown on the Wicklow border. Senator O'Brien has said he is 'appalled that Minister Reilly didn't seem to know about these savage cuts and had no concept of the dangers posed to patients in his own constituency as a result'. He told the Fingal Independent: 'When I raised the matter with the Minister, he didn't seem to have a clue about the life-threatening cuts to emergency health services in his own area.
'This is despite the fact that I, and several of his constituents, have written to the Minister asking him to reverse these cuts. The issue has also been well flagged by the local media.' When the senator posed questions to the minister on the subject, Minister Reilly simply replied that he would 'need to check the situation regarding ambulance cover'. 'It will come as a shock to people across north Dublin that James Reilly, the person charged with running our health service, is unaware of the cuts he is presiding over in his own constituency' Senator O'Brien said: 'I have now explained to Minister Reilly that every Tuesday between 7am and 7pm there is no local HSE ambulance cover for 250,000 people.
'Last Tuesday this area was covered by the ambulance from Loughlinstown Hospital, but on the weekend before last there was no HSE ambulance on the Friday and Saturday nights in the north county Dublin area because the HSE would not cover sick leave and would not put in non-rostered staff.' The Fianna Fáil senator concluded: 'There is absolutely no doubt that this is putting lives at risk. Now that the Minister is finally aware of this issue, it is incumbent on him to take it in hand and reverse these dangerous cuts.'