THE lack of ambulances and the delays in responding to emergencies in West Cork and across the county is a ‘national crisis in rural areas’ according to one councillor, who along with his colleagues is calling on the HSE to carry out a full review on the ambulance service across the county.
At a meeting of the local authority this week, North Cork-based Independent Cllr Frank Roche raised a motion calling on the Minster for Health to urgently provide more ambulances and ambulance personnel for North Cork but later agreed to amend it for the whole county.
He recalled an incident near him where an ambulance took two and a half hours to get to a family in Castletownroche.
As reported in The Southern Star last month, one family in Bantry spoke of how they were told to drive to the emergency department in Cork city because the nearest ambulance was in Clonakilty at the time.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said he brought up a similar motion at a recent Regional Health Forum, where he highlighted the fact that ambulance crews based in West Cork were frequently being dispatched to parts of Kerry and Cork city leaving the region without cover.
He gave several examples of incidents where people had to wait for hours for an ambulance to arrive in an emergency.
‘It’s a national crisis in rural areas and it’s at breaking point.
‘When I bought it up with Nicky Glynn, who is the chief ambulance officer for the National Ambulance Service he said a full review would be carried out in the first quarter of 2022,’ said Cllr Collins.
‘But I hope this review is done on the ground here and not up in Dublin.
‘I want those people carrying out the review to speak to the paramedics in the country who are stretched to the very last.’
Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) fully supported the motion and paid tribute to the ambulance staff who are working on the frontline.
He said there needs to be a review of the quantity of ambulances in the county Cork area including ambulance personnel.
Cllr Paul Murtagh (FG), who works with the Cork City Fire Brigade, said they operate a cardiac crew in Cork city, whereby they respond to emergencies when ambulances can’t and he suggested that this could be rolled out across the county.
‘It’s as a result of cutting numbers on the ground that we are having problems with the ambulance service.
‘The personnel risk their lives all the time and it needs to be addressed,’ said Cllr Murtagh.
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) suggested that the she could put this motion forward to the HSE Forum at a future date.
County mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) also paid tribute to the ambulance personnel and she called for a broader distribution of ambulance services.
‘The HSE has a responsibility to do a review of out of hours and emergency medicine across the country and more ambulance personnel and depots are needed,’ said Cllr Coughlan.