first_imgHEALTH Minister James Reilly has admitted it was unacceptable that a Co Donegal mother had to drive her sick son and a paramedic to hospital because no other ambulance staff were available.Mr Reilly was responding to questions from Sinn Fein TDs in the Dáil following a story first revealed by Donegal Daily last month.Speaking on the matter, Donegal South West TD Pearse Doherty said: “I asked the Minister if enhanced ambulance and paramedic services will be made available in County Donegal, in light of growing concerns among members of staff in the ambulance service and the general public, that cutbacks to frontline services mean that staff struggle to respond appropriately to emergency situations “I welcome the introduction of the Intermediate Care Service in Sligo and Letterkenny, to provide routine and non-emergency patient transport in order to free up emergency resources for emergency calls and I look forward to this service being fully operational in 2013.“I also welcome discussions with Minister Edwin Poots MLA regarding cross border co-operation on this matter. Such an initiative is, in my view, long overdue.“However, I feel that more needs to be done to ensure that the ambulance service in this County is adequately resourced. For the past number of months, I have heard several reports of staff working excessively long hours and backup being unavailable in several instances, to the extent that lives may be put at risk.“Just last month, the shocking situation came to light whereby a mother drove her unconscious child and a paramedic to Letterkenny General Hospital, highlighting just how close to the bone the service is currently operating at. “I commend my colleague, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Health, for questioning the Minister directly in relation to this shocking incident and I am glad that the Minister agrees that this situation was “utterly unacceptable” and I hope that he will now take immediate action to ensure such a situation does not occur in future.“I welcome the commitment given by the Minister that he will investigate this matter and I call on the Minister to treat this matter as a priority and recognise the clear need provide reassurance the public that the Ambulance service in the County will be adequately resourced to respond to emergency situations.“Our ambulance service is not a luxury – it is there to provide an essential emergency health service and there should be no compromise on the level of resources provided to ensure the service operates effectively.”Minister Reilly responded: “This is a serious matter and I intend to have it investigated. It makes no sense to me that an ambulance would go out on its own and the paramedic would therefore be unavailable.”Full Text of the exchange is provided below Deputy Pearse Dohertyasked the Minister for Health if enhanced ambulance and paramedic services will be made available in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57017/12]Deputy James Reilly:Emergency ambulances from all stations across Donegal are used in a dynamic manner, to maintain emergency cover and respond to calls as required. Ambulance stations across the county and adjacent counties support each other, and the nearest available resource responds to an emergency call, regardless of where it is based. I would be the first to acknowledge the geographical spread in County Donegal. The National Ambulance Service has enhanced the delivery of ambulance services in the north west through the recent introduction of a new intermediate care service in Sligo and Letterkenny. The purpose of the ICS is to undertake routine and non-emergency stretcher-based patient transport, such as inter-hospital transfers, in order to free up emergency resources for emergency calls. Once again, we are back to the patient being treated by the right person in the right place at the right time, which carries for ambulance services as well. This service will be fully operational in early 2013 with 19 intermediate care operatives. At the moment it operates in a limited number of areas, which includes Letterkenny. The NAS is also assisted in the west by a pilot emergency aeromedical service which was established in June 2012 and which is based in Custume Barracks, Athlone. This dedicated resource provides emergency transport where transport time is critical and where certain clinical criteria are fulfilled. I have had discussions with Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, in the North on how we can co-operate on air ambulance services as well and in community services on either side of the Border, a hospital service. Radiotherapy services in Altnagelvin are a case in point.The ambulance service is also progressing training of additional advanced paramedics and a number of staff from the north west, including Donegal, are included in this programme.In addition to the above, a paramedic upskilling programme is currently being progressed across the country, which will enhance the delivery of care to patients.Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:There was a situation where a distraught mother had to drive her unconscious child to hospital while a paramedic tended to the child in the back seat of the car. If this was an isolated incident, it might not have been raised in this way, but I am told there are other reported instances where ambulances have been told only one paramedic was available to both drive and tend. With the child needing to be attended to and brought to Letterkenny General Hospital, the paramedic could not drive the ambulance. The situation is serious and I am drawing it to the Minister’s attention because there is a fault line. That is not to question the role of individual ambulance drivers and-or paramedics but certainly it is to question the decision making of those who oversee the service or who have issued governance rules to those entrusted with that oversight.We were told by the article, and inquiries I have made on the back of it, that the paramedic in this instance sought additional support through the channels he would report to and people were available with the necessary skills, other paramedics and ambulances drivers, but permission to engage those available professionally trained personnel was refused. This is a serious matter and was of significant concern to the paramedic concerned and to his fellow professionals in the ambulance service in Donegal. I ask the Minster what steps he will take to assure the people of Donegal that a situation such as that described will not reoccur.Deputy James Reilly:This is a serious matter and I intend to have it investigated. It makes no sense to me that an ambulance would go out on its own and the paramedic would therefore be unavailable. Given the choice between driving or caring for the patient, it does not make any sense. I went around the country and met the staff, including ambulance staff, in the regions about the future plans for the health service. One of the paramedics raised an issue with me that I intend to address. Sometimes these very experienced individuals are sent to a house and when they arrive, having examined the patient, they see no reason to bring him or her to hospital but they have no other option. They cannot bring the patient to the out of hours doctor on call, or advise them to wait until the follow morning to see his GP. I believe, however, that should be the case; these are highly qualified individuals.That is not quite what the Deputy is talking about but what I am trying to say is we have a wonderful resource here and we should allow them give of the knowledge they have in a complete fashion and not just corral them into narrow spaces. I undertake to investigate this and come back to the Deputy with a report. To my mind, this was utterly unacceptable.DONEGAL MUM FORCED TO DRIVE PARAMEDIC TO HOSPITAL – MINISTER ADMITS IT IS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ was last modified: December 20th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more