THE majority of paramedics are "totally opposed" to the "draconian move" of ending the night-time ambulance service in Kanturk and the eradication of a 24service in Millstreet.
This is according to a HSE official who has told The Corkman that Kanturk will only have an ambulance by day and a rapid response unit by night. The only catchment region which will have 24-hour ambulance cover in the North Cork and Muskerry region will be Macroom and Mallow.
"Duhallow is a huge catchment region which will not have 24-hour ambulance cover. A person can never say when or where how many accidents in a night will take place in Duhallow.
"The HSE are crystal ball-gazing and their primary goal is to hit the target rate as outlined by HIQA of reaching the scene of accident by eight minutes. HIQA standards state an ambulance must reach the scene of an accident within 20 minutes.
"From various staff that I have spoken to, the majority are appalled by such cuts to an already sinking service," said the HSE official.
There are two advanced paramedics for the region, one in Macroom and one in Mallow, which, the HSE official believes, is not adequate. The response cars will be manned by paramedics and advanced paramedics.
At a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) meeting held last Friday, SIPTU representatives heard of the "latest HSE plan" to eliminate the contentious on-call system by instead introducing 12-hour shifts in Cork and Kerry.
If the HSE gets the nod of approval, it will mean the total withdrawal of ambulance vehicles from Millstreet and Youghal, and the withdrawal of night-time ambulance provision from Kanturk, Kenmare, Skibbereen and Castletownbere. Cover instead will be given by rapid Ford Mondeo cars which cannot carry patients or casualties from accidents and will be driven by a single advanced paramedic.
"This will mean that an advanced paramedic will firstly attend the scene of an accident for example in Rockchapel. The person who is injured will then have to wait for an ambulance to turn up to take them to hospital.
"For an ambulance from a 24-hour station such as Cork city to get to Rockchapel could take two hours. The person who will suffer will be the patient and the entire people of Duhallow who find themselves needing to get to a hospital quickly," said the source.
The HSE official said that the planned elimination of on-call in Cork and Kerry for ambulance staff will only come into play if staff agree to the drastic cuts in the level of service presently being provided to the public, as well as "radical changes" in their present on call working conditions, which can see paramedics working 24-hour shifts.
The plan, said the source will effectively mean that there will be only two ambulances and two response cars to cover the entire North Cork region by night.
The HSE official also said if the HSE can put two advanced paramedics into two separate response units, then why not put two paramedics into an ambulance.
"Lives will be lost and this entire plan makes zero sense. It will bring nothing but hardship," said the HSE official.