Leitrim needs more ambulances and staff

Fiona Heavey

Reporter:

Fiona Heavey

Leitrim Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny is once again pleading for local investment in new ambulances.
Leitrim is one of a number of counties that has only two emergency ambulances covering 24 hours.


Figures published by the Leitrim Observer in April this year, showed there is just one ambulance stationed in Carrick-on-Shannon and one in Manorhamilton for day and night shifts.
At night Carrick has one ambulance, while in Manorhamilton there is an emergency ambulance for three nights and an on call ambulance from 8pm-8am for four nights.
Both of these ambulances service a large region and could be called away as far as Mayo or Monaghan.


This week national newspapers revealed that six other counties have only one ambulance on night duty.
The news is further exacerbated by the fact the HSE has spent over €25m on private ambulances over the past five years.
Deputy Kenny says this figure should have been spent on purchasing and staffing new ambulances.


According to figures released by the HSE to Sinn Féin, Sligo General Hospital spent €636,744 in 2015, €528,565 in 2014, €340,687 in 2013, and €150,851 in 2012 on private ambulances.
"That's a four year total of €1,656,847," noted the Sligo/Leitrim TD.
Deputy Kenny has been raising the issue of ambulance cover in Leitrim since he was a Councillor and continues to do so as TD.


“Given that the cost of purchasing a fully equipped emergency ambulance is €222,000 (according to a PQ response from the HSE), hiring private ambulances is not fiscally prudent or appropriate in the case of people’s lives being at stake. A dependency on this method of providing ambulance services is hugely irresponsible by the State. Privatisation in its various guises has been spreading across our health service for some time now. The outsourcing of ambulance services to private companies by our health services is further evidence of this,” Deputy Kenny stated.


With Manorhamilton close to Sligo, it is areas such as Ballinamore, Carrigallen and Cloone that are of concern to many.
Deputy Kenny has argued that the closest ambulance is at least 30 minutes away and if another ambulance is deployed it will take over an hour for an emergency response. The service is supposed to arrive at the scene of an emergency, known as an ‘ECHO’ call, within 18 minutes and 59 seconds of being alerted.
If the Carrick unit is busy people in South Leitrim have to rely on Cavan/ Longford/ Mullingar or Boyle units.