Corkman

| 17.7°C Dublin

Moynihan critical of Duhallow ambulance service

The ambulance service in the Duhallow region was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Michael Moynihan.

He said every week somebody rings him about this service or the lack of it. 

On a recent Monday afternoon, he said got a phone call from a relative whose family member had gone into an epileptic fit. They had rung for an ambulance and waited 40 or 45 minutes for it, then they rang him out of desperation, not thinking he could wave a magic wand or whatever. 

"The issue was that the ambulance was coming from Tralee because there was no ambulance in Duhallow at that stage, and then through the emergency call centre there was another change and the ambulance came from a different direction," said. 

"The region of Duhallow is not being well served. There was an ambulance taken out of the Millstreet area with this new configuration of the ambulance service. There was always an ambulance in Macroom, Kanturk, Mallow and Millstreet. That ambulance was covering the Cork-Kerry border and the greater part of Duhallow. It covered 27,000 or 28,000 people. The region itself would be larger than some rural Dáil constituencies. We have no ambulance service there."

Deputy Moynihan said if an ambulance leaves Kanturk and takes a patient to the CUH or to any other hospital in the city and then there is a call-out to Little Island or to Cobh or anywhere else, the ambulance is immediately dispatched because this is the nearest ambulance and if there is a call in Kiskeam or Rockchapel or any of those places, there is no ambulance. It will be the Limerick or the Kerry ambulance, which might be an hour or an hour and a half from those places. It is simply not acceptable in this day and age. Creed calls for balance between private and HSE nursing homes The standards bar for nursing homes has been raised by the Health Information & Quality Authority, (HIQA), and there is a need for all to catch up, Fine Gael Deputy Michael Creed told the Dáil.

Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion on emergency departments, he said he was familiar with these cases because there is one in his home town of Macroom. This is a community hospital which is held in high regard locally, along with other community hospitals in Kanturk and Millstreet.

"We need to be careful, however, about retaining the appropriate balance between HSE-controlled bed numbers for care of the elderly and beds controlled by private nursing homes," he said. "If we put the overwhelming majority of eggs in one basket and rely on private nursing homes to provide beds for public patients, ultimately we will be hostages to fortune and we will be asked to pay increasingly high prices for those beds."

In meeting new HIQA standards, he said the opportunity to bring change should be encouraged. 

"Officials in the hospital in Macroom have appointed a design team to examine the hospital facilities to see how it can meet HIQA compliance while retaining current bed numbers," he said. "However, we should be more ambitious. Although we may not currently have the finances available, we should examine the campuses to establish how we can double or triple the number of beds available."

In the long term he said this would ensure we can maintain the appropriate balance. It was the case that the cost ratio between those beds under HSE control and those in the private sector were out of line in so far as the private sector was providing more cost efficiency. However, this is an opportunity, he said, to address the matter by increasing bed numbers and thereby reducing the overall cost per patient. 

"It is right and proper that HIQA standards should be met," he said. "People are living longer and we will need more beds." Broadband not available nationally until 2021 - Moynihan The timeline to connect premises in counties under the National Broadband Plan and what future-proofing of the minimum broadband speeds will be provided, was raised in the Dáil by Cork North-West Fianna Fáil Deputy Michael Moynihan.

In 2011, he said the Government's Programme for Government, "one of the greatest books of fiction ever written", promised to make significant investment in next-generation broadband over the following four years for every home and business and to deliver it to 90% of homes. 

"That has clearly failed on both levels," he said. "In the replies to various parliamentary questions the Government has said the network build will start in May 2016 and that it will take three to five years to be completely operative. 

"The Government is kicking the can to 2021."

In 2015, facing into 2016, Deputy Moynihan said broadband is one of the basic requirements for living in any part of the State, whether urban or rural.

"I know the State has built the population growth on the east coast, but forgetting about the other parts of the country is not acceptable and there should be a crisis Cabinet sub-committee set up to deal with the broadband issue, because nothing is happening," he said.

In reply, Communications Minister Alex White said only 300,000 addresses had high-speed broadband when his party was in office, just before the 2011 election. 

"He can talk about works of fiction all he wants and he can criticise us if he wishes, but the lamentable failure of the Government of which he was a supporter is manifest for all to see," he said. 

"The situation now is that high-speed broadband is available to approximately 1.3 million addresses, and by the end of 2016 it is envisaged that high-speed broadband will be available to 1.6 million addresses. By 2018, we aim to have 85% of the population covered."

Corkman