West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

3% efficiency savings in Ambulance Service would create crisis in Western Division-Doherty

Published: 8 July, 2008

West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty said that the Ambulance Service in the Western Division would be in thrown into a state of crisis if 3% efficiency savings over the next 3 years are introduced.

He said,

"In response to the Health Minister's request for 3% efficiency savings in each of the next 3 years the Ambulance Service is proposing cutting the number of hours ambulances are available as well as taking some ambulances off the road altogether.

"Making more Rapid Response Vehicles available would not compensate for what would be lost in terms of capacity and given the circumstances that prevail in the Western Division these efficiency savings, if proceeded with, would throw an already overstretched service into a state of crisis.

"Already in the Western Division, ambulance staff are being expected to cover the largest geographical area with the most limited range of resources available to any Division. The Division's fleet has also a disproportionate number of older ambulances with higher mileage which leads to a greater risk of breakdowns.

"This problem is being compounded further by the fact that there is an extremely high level of inter hospital transfers and both within and outside the board area as well as the normal hospital discharges which take ambulances out of circulation for long periods which in turn is leaving increasing gaps in cover.

"I have now written to Health Minister Michael Mc Gimpsey outlining how disastrous the impact would be if these 3% efficiency savings were to be made in Ambulance Service provision in each of the next 3 years and in particular in terms of the Western Division Area and I have asked him to rescind this instruction he has given to the Ambulance Service.