November 15, 2019
Government disregard for air ambulance service at root of crisis – Louise O’Reilly TD

Speaking this evening Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the disregard the government has for the air ambulance service is at the root of the proposed service closure for a number of days between now and February.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The repots from RTÉ that Ireland’s only air ambulance will be shut down for 16 days between now and February due to mounting staffing and training issues is a significant cause for concern.

“The air ambulance service is a crucial one and a successful one; unfortunately its success have not been built on and no additional ambulances or staff have been added to the service.

“It’s essentialness is underlined by its use – last year it was used in 159 car crashes, 146 medical emergencies and 15 child hospital transfers. 

“Not only is it essential so seriously ill people can be rushed to hospital in emergency situations, but is vital as an emergency transport measure for people in rural areas.

“The issues affecting the service have not appeared overnight, serious concerns have been raised regarding the service in recent months. Yet, the concerns have been ignored and the service has been totally disregarded by government.

“In many ways it is only the hard work and dedication of the pilots and paramedics operating the air ambulance service which is keeping it afloat. 

“The Department of Defence has stated that during these 16 days (four days in each of the four months) the Irish Coast Guard’s four helicopters will attempt to fill the service gap. However, not only will this cause its own problems for the system, it is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“We cannot continue to stretch already stretched services and we cannot just wait until after a crisis or tragedy to do the right thing.

“The leaders in the health service need to step in here and secure not only the future of the service for the next four months, but for decades to come.”

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