27th August 2014
Every three days the Roscommon Town ambulance base, which provides emergency cover for the majority of County Roscommon, has been left without any ambulance available to respond to an emergency, local TD Denis Naughten has claimed.
Deputy Naughten has come into the possession of confidential documents which list 216 incidents/near misses at the Roscommon Town ambulance station in a six month period between July and December last.
“The report, which has been presented to the National Ambulance Service and the former Health Minister James Reilly, points to 59 occasions over the six month period when there was no ambulance cover available in Roscommon but to date no action has been taken to address the serious deficiencies highlighted,” stated Denis Naughten.
The report not only highlights the lack of ambulance cover but also points to eight ‘near misses’ where someone’s life was put in jeopardy due to a lack of adequate resourcing of ambulance staff and the service locally.
There was also a further 41 occasions when there was no Advanced Paramedic (AP) cover available. An AP acts as the clinical lead at incidents and is an expert practitioner in the field of pre-hospital emergency care. APs are the recommended response to patients defined as Clinical Status Category “Life threatening”, “Serious not life threatening” and “Non serious or life threatening” for appropriate conditions. They usually respond in the Rapid Response Vehicle, with Roscommon having the only one in the West specifically because of the closure of the emergency department in July 2011.
Last December Deputy Naughten raised one of the 216 incidents with Minister James Reilly in Dail Eireann and the Minister directed HIQA to fast track a report into the operation of the National Ambulance Service.
The incident in question happened on 30th November 2013 when all of the Roscommon ambulances were parked outside Galway University Hospital, along with those that provide cover in Roscommon – namely the Ballinasloe, Castlebar and Loughrea ambulances – leaving Roscommon without any ambulance service.
“I have consistently highlighted the failure of half of all ambulances to attend the scene of a life-threatening incident within the HIQA target of 19 minutes which is not the fault of ambulance staff but that of the National Ambulance Service, which has failed to provide the required manpower to adequately staff the service,” stated Denis Naughten.
“The fact is that the ambulance service is on a knife edge and every day that staff are not provided to effectively operate the ambulance service is another day that local lives are put at risk,” concluded Denis Naughten.