THE percentage of life-threatening incidents responded to by ambulance within the target of 19 minutes in the HSE South area, which includes West Cork, has fallen from 73% in December 2019 to 61% in December 2022 for cardiac and respiratory arrest.
In the same area, response times have gone from 47% to just 28% for other life-threatening incidents.
Sinn Féin representative for Cork South West, Clare O’Callaghan, has said that the increase in ambulance response times since 2019 for the area is ‘worrying and dangerous.’
She was responding to data received by party health spokesperson David Cullinane TD from the National Ambulance Service through a parliamentary question.
‘The increase in average ambulance response times locally over the last three years is worrying and dangerous. It is clear that the ambulance service is under serious strain and pressure, which is exactly what paramedics in Cork have been warning for years.
‘The continuous decrease in the ambulance service’s ability to respond to life-threatening incidents within target timeframes shows that the government is failing to properly resource the service. People living in West Cork will be anxious about the impact of this for people who need urgent care locally,’ she said.
A decrease in standards of this magnitude is dangerous, she added, and it is putting patients in West Cork at risk, and is forcing paramedics to work extremely long hours.
‘That is not good for the individual paramedic, and many are concerned about the risk this presents to them, to patients, and to the public across West Cork,’ said Ms O’Callaghan. ‘The Government must take urgent action to address the crisis so that patients in West Cork can have confidence that they will receive help promptly when they need it. The Minister for Health must publish and fund a multi-annual workforce plan to double the number of paramedics and to increase both training and retention in the service. The solutions are there and change can be delivered.’