Ambulance cuts in Wicklow will put lives at risk
Wicklow Sinn Fein councillor John Brady has voiced serious concerns about the new rostering for the ambulance service that covers county Wicklow.
The new rosters are being implemented by the National Ambulance Service to reflect the reduction of weekly working hours from 40 to 39 and a ban on over time imposed by the HSE.
Cllr Brady said it will inevitably put lives at risk and lead to longer response times from a vastly reduced service.
Brady was speaking after being briefed by Ambulance personnel on the cuts "Under the new working arrangements due to come into force at the beginning of September the working week will be cut from 40 hours to 39 hours, there will also be a ban on overtime.
The HSE have told the Ambulance Service that the new roster has to be achieved using existing staff numbers. The net result is under the new rostering
arrangements a number of ambulance bases in Wicklow wont be staffed on certain days of the week. Ambulance personal have informed me for example that they will have no one available to operate the base or ambulances from the Arklow base on a Monday because of the new roster."
Cllr Brady continued "Currently there are serious problems with the ambulance service right across Wicklow and a number of months ago I met with senior management in the National Ambulance Service to discuss the problems facing the service in the south of Wicklow and presented them a petition containing thousands of signatures demanding a better service.
Under these new arrangements it will make a bad situation worse and it will inevitably put lives at risk and lead to longer response times from a vastly reduced service."
“As an elected representative I am asking what I believe is a reasonable question - is the service that they are leaving behind sufficient or able to cover the growing population of Wicklow?
The ambulance service that covers Wicklow operates from bases in Loughlinstown, Wicklow Town, Arklow and Baltinglass, in 2010 they responded to a total of 3577 calls, they are already at breaking point and rely on ambulances from neighbouring counties to assist in providing a basic level of cover, these cuts will however be the final nail if implemented" Brady continued
Cllr Brady went on to say “In my opinion the HSE are gambling with people’s lives. They are cutting the ambulance service and leaving areas such as Arklow with no cover.
It is not acceptable that other areas will have to try fill that gap as well as provide cover in their own areas. These cuts coupled with the planned closure of the 24hour A&E in St. Columcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown will put lives on the
line and must be rejected. I have wrote to the HSE and Minister for Health James Reilly seeking immediate answers on this life and death matter. "