Youghal and Midleton Ambulance Left Standing Idle Because Of Paramedic Shortage

By Seamus Whelehan

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According to paramedics a rapid response vehicle was left to provide emergency cover for up to 60,000 people across East Cork on Tuesday 21 February.

The source claimed that due to rules on working hour’s ambulance crew in Youghal were on a rest period between 8:00am and 12:00 mid-day.

They say the Midleton ambulance was left unused as there were no relief staff to man the unit last week.

Once a crew have worked up to 16 hours they are required to have a minimum of an 11 hour rest period before resuming duty.

The Paramedic claimed the region was left to depend on back up crews from Tipperary and Waterford.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised an investigation into the Ambulance service in East Cork, following concerns that the service is in crisis.

On the 16 February the East Cork Journal reported that there was a risk to ambulance cover in Midleton, as the National Ambulance Service intend to replace it with a 24/7 Rapid Response car.

In 2012 the HSE made changes to the National Ambulance Service designed to modernise the delivery of emergency pre-hospital care in Cork and Kerry.

The ambulance service in Youghal remained and the Midleton unit was replaced with a Rapid Response Vehicle manned by a medical technician around the clock.

Last year the service’s outgoing Chief Ambulance Officer Paul Gallen brought the Midleton Ambulance back on a 12 hour over time basis in response to the services first ever capacity review.

TD for Cork East, Pat Buckley has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the National Ambulance Service to immediately increase the ambulance cover in East Cork.

“Recently there has been extended periods where there was no ambulance service between Waterford and Cork as the Rapid Response was busy.”

“The Midleton service had on average 8-10 call outs per shift to remove such a busy service is not just bad management but downright dangerous.”

The National Ambulance service confirmed “a crew did avail of compensatory rest for a period, reporting for duty two hours thirty eight minutes after their normal start time. This is provided for, as part of normal employment legislation. However the taking of this rest period at that time is not a requirement.  Due to the unpredictable nature of emergency work, 999 calls can be received at any time, often within minutes of the end of a shift.”

“The approved level of service for Midleton is a Rapid Response Vehicle. There was no disruption to this service on Tuesday 21st February, 2017.”

“There were several emergency ambulances operating in the East Cork area on the morning of 21st February, 2017. They were available to respond to emergency calls if required.  As it happened there were no emergency calls in East Cork on the morning of Tuesday 21 February, with the first request for an emergency ambulance being received from a GP mid-morning when an emergency ambulance was dispatched from the area immediately.”

Due to time constraints the Ambulance service said they were not able to respond to Deputy Buckley’s claims.

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