QUESTIONS are being asked of the HSE today following revelations that a 19-year-old died during a two hour ambulance journey to hospital.
Elaine Curley from Creggs, in Co Roscommon, died on the two hour journey from the scene of a car crash to UCHG hospital in Galway – a journey which should have taken around an hour and 20 minutes.
The delay in getting Ms Curley to hospital occurred when ambulance crew initially took an indirect route through a bogland road. They then brought the seriously ill patient to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe before being diverted to the main trauma hospital for the region UCHG in Galway.
Ms Curley was just 15 minutes away from Roscommon hospital when the accident occurred in November of last year. However the closure of the A&E facility there earlier in 2011 meant the ambulance had to bypass the hospital.
Today politicians and community activists called for the closure of Roscommon A&E to be reviewed.
Fianna Fail Seanad Health spokesperson, Marc McSharry, said the case called for an immediate re-examination of the ambulance service.
He also queried the lack of lack of resources in the HSE and whether this was causing a loss of life.
Local TD Denis Naughten said the incident highlighted how difficult it was from people in Roscommon to get emergency treatment following the closure of Roscommon A&E.
"Elaine passed by the front door of two hospitals on the way to Galway and the reason that the ambulance took that route was obviously because they felt that Portiuncla was the place to bring her but they couldn't take trauma patients and she had to transfer on to Galway University Hospital,” he said.
A spokesperson for the HSE said it was not appropriate to give specific details on individual cases, but added: "The decision on which hospital patients are brought to is taken by National Ambulance Service staff based on a number of criteria, including the clinical condition of the patient and following consultation with the Emergency Department of the receiving hospital."
Ms Curley's family have hit out at the Government over the closure of Roscommon A&E and have urged them to reconsider the decision.
Bridie and Padraig Curley highlighted their daughter's tragic death in the hope that the Government might reopen the services in Roscommon.
"The family are devastated by this. It's heartbreaking for them to have to go public on this but they are really doing it because they don't want it to happen to any other family," said family friend, John McDermott, a member of the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee.
"Not for a second, are they saying Elaine would have definitely been saved had she been brought to Roscommon but the fact is that being in the ambulance for so long, she had no chance.
"The family are not blaming the ambulance service at all. The reality is it's not possible for patients from these areas to be in Galway in 90 minutes."
Members of the National Ambulance Service have met with the Curley family.
In a letter to the family, outlining aspects of the case, a spokesperson said: "Our genuine belief from reviewing the literature nationally and internationally is that the survival rate for blunt traumatic cardiac arrest is approximately zero per cent and Roscommon or any other hospital could not have saved Elaine."
Ms Curley was involved in a car crash at 10pm on November 6 of last year, in which she suffered a tear in her thoracic aorta and in her liver, causing massive internal bleeding.