Carrick-on-Shannon ambulance crew have relocated to Boyle over Health & Safety issues with base.
There is no ambulance in Carrick-on-Shannon to cover South Leitrim after crew members decided to move to Boyle over major concerns with their base.
One of the Carrick ambulance crew, speaking exclusively to the Leitrim Observer, said they were moved to a temporary base on the outskirts of the town in September but it was “not functional,” had health and safety issues.
The crew felt they had no other choice but to move to Boyle which, they say, is also unsuitable as it was built to cater for just one crew.
The ambulance staff say they are aware that the move will result in “further time delays” for patients in South Leitrim and hope that the issue can be resolved quickly so they can move back to the county town.
SIPTU has been in contact with the HSE and management at the Ambulance Service and are trying to arrange a meeting immediately to discuss the issues.
Neither the HSE or the National Ambulance Service responded to this paper's queries about the ambulance being moved or the industrial relations issue.
A member of Carrick-on-Shannon ambulance crew informed the paper they decided to move to the Boyle base last Wednesday, October 17, over health and safety issues as well as fire risk at their temporary base.
The Emergency Crew member who wishes not to be named says the Carrick-on-Shannon Ambulance have been “without a purpose built space in 20 years.”
The crew had been based in a house in Shannon Lodge, but were given six weeks notice to move after the house was sold. He said the HSE and Ambulance Service said they had a temporary base and were told that planning permission was to be submitted for a purpose built facility there. “We moved to the new temporary location in good faith,” the crew member explained, but once there found it was “not functional.”
He stated there was a problem with the accommodation as “there was no cooking facilities, no shower facilities and the site is under construction.”
The member also highlighted the issue of access to the site, security and privacy.
The staff work extended hours and need to be able to rest, change their clothes and shower. The spokesperson said there was no sign for parking to allow the ambulance to make a quick exit. He also said he is not aware of any planning application being filed.
The eight full time crew members made the decision last Wednesday not to return to the base and instead moved to Boyle, which they say is also unsuitable as it is only able to cater for one crew.
The crew are aware that the move to Boyle will add further delays for patients in South Leitrim seeking an ambulance, but say there is only one ambulance on duty at day and night and they are often called to Mayo or Letterkenny leaving no ambulance to service the local area.
They said the Ambulance Service spent money on a new dispatch system in Ballyshannon but “failed to put in any resources.”
The local crew said ambulance bases in Boyle, Sligo and Ballyshannon have been upgraded but Carrick-on-Shannon has been “ignored.”
SIPTU have asked to meet with managers of the service to discuss the ongoing issues.
Meanwhile, Ballinamore GP Dr. Sean Bourke said he is beyond annoyed that the Carrick ambulance crew has moved to Boyle resulting in “further delays” to critical patients. He said, "Leitrim is being treated like a third world country.”
Dr Bourke said there is a “crisis” in the HSE. He said doctors were not notified about the move and he only found out by speaking to an ambulance driver.