Tuesday 22 January 2019

Millstreet ambulance service could be restored 'within weeks'

Bill Browne

A Cork county councillor has said it was his understanding that the National Ambulance Service (NAS) is giving serious consideration to the restoration of the 24/7 ambulance service in Millstreet.

The Millstreet ambulance service was withdrawn in 2013 and replaced by a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV), manned by a single paramedic per shift.  At the time the move was met with considerable disquiet within the local community, leading to repeated calls from public representatives that the ambulance service be fully reinstated. 

Speaking to The Corkman, Cllr John Paul O'Shea (FG) said he had written to chief ambulance officer Paul Gallen at the tail end of last month asking him to confirm local speculation that the ambulance service was to be restored. 

In his reply, Mr Gallen said the NAS "continuously seek quality improvement to the delivery of our services."

"In this regard, we are reviewing different resources in order to establish best utilisation of same, and are indeed reviewing same in the North Cork area," wrote Mr Gallen.

"Therefore, once a decision has been finalised with regard to your query, we will notify you immediately," he added. 

Describing Mr Gallen's comments as "very positive", Cllr O'Shea said he was hopeful that a fully operational, round the clock, ambulance service would be restored in Millstreet. 

"While a definitive decision has yet to be made public, it is my understanding that  the service is to be reinstated within a matter of weeks," said Cllr O'Shea. 

He said that while the Rapid Response Vehicle was a very worthwhile part of the overall ambulance service, a key concern was that it was unable to transport seriously ill patients to hospital after advanced paramedics had administered potentially life-saving treatment at the scene. 

"As I understand it, the vast majority of emergency calls across the area require transportation to a hospital and in these instances an ambulance has had to be summoned from bases in Kanturk, Macroom or even Killarney," said Cllr O'Shea. 

He said there had been instances where an ambulance had taken up to two-and-a-half-hours to arrive at the scene of an incident. 

"In this day and age that is simply not acceptable. It is my understanding the Millstreet ambulance could be reinstated on a cost-neutral basis by the re-allocation of resources. Given that the emergency service at Mallow General Hospital has been downgraded, there is a clear need for emergency pre-hospital care services in North Cork be strengthened," said Cllr O'Shea. 

"The restoration of the Millstreet ambulance service is of critical importance to the region and I am calling on the NAS to restore it as soon as possible. The people of Millstreet and the wider area deserve this," he added.