Monday 17 June 2019

O'Shea - ambulance service to be restored 24/7 in Millstreet from September

Millstreet will have it full time ambulance back in September
Millstreet will have it full time ambulance back in September

Bill Browne

There was good news for Millstreet this week following confirmation that its full-time HSE ambulance service is set to be fully restored from September.

The Millstreet ambulance service was withdrawn in 2012 and replaced by a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV), manned by a single paramedic per shift. 

The move was met with considerable disquiet within the local community, resulting in repeated calls from local public representatives for the full restoration of the service. 

A main concern was that the RRV was unable to transfer patients, meaning that after a paramedic administered treatment patients still had to wait for an ambulance to take them to hospital. Concerns were also raised about the safety concerns for the paramedic operating alone in rural and isolated areas, particularly at night-time. 

In April Cllr John Paul O'Shea (FG) wrote to the head of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Paul Gallen, asking him to confirm local speculation that the service was to be reinstated. 

Mr Gallen confirmed the NAS was reviewing resources in order to "establish best utilisation of same", including in the north Cork area and would inform Cllr O'Shea once a decision had been finalised. 

Cllr O'Shea said the Baseline and Capacity review undertaken by the HSE/NAS, known as the Lightfoot Report, confirmed the role of RRV's in rural areas such as Millstreet were ineffective and should be replaced by a transporting ambulance. 

Speaking to The Corkman this week Cllr O'Shea said confirmation that the  service was being restored was "a positive outcome for the north Cork region and in particular the people of Millstreet." 

"I have witnessed first hand the need for the service, with many emergency calls from the area having to reply on ambulances from Macroom, Killarney and even as far away as Tralee and Newcastle-West in the absence of a transporting ambulance," said Cllr O'Shea. 

He pointed out under the current system it could take more than two-hours for an ambulance to arrive at a call. 

"I welcome the fact that the HSE now intends to restore the Millstreet service 24/7 from September. Enabling works have already commenced as the ambulance base in Millstreet in anticipation of its return," said Cllr O'Shea. 

He went on to say that the Lightfoot Report, the first of its kind to e undertaken in Ireland, had outlined how the ambulance service nationally should be improved over the coming years. 

"The recommendations of this report must be implemented in full which will in the first instance restore confidence in our ambulance service and most importantly improve pre-hospital emergency care services for all our citizens and this in turn will have a positive impact on the wider health services," said Cllr O'Shea. 

He said the report has identified a significant need for investment in staff, technology and in community engagement to improve the service. 

"As a local representative in north Cork, I will do my utmost to ensure the HSE ambulance service follows through with these recommendations," he added.