Agreement on Reform of West Cork Ambulance Service

‘I welcome the agreement reached between HSE management and the paramedic staff in West Cork.

‘It comes,’ the Fine Gael TD for Cork South West said: ‘following a response I received in the Dáil from Health Minister James Reilly, last November, confirming that the improved ambulance service in West Cork will cost an estimated additional €300,000 in 2013.

‘The changes proposed were always about improving the service and not a cut back as portrayed by some in West Cork. I have, from the outset, made it very clear that I was unhappy with a system, which, on occasions, saw the four ambulances tied up in Cork leaving the whole of West Cork without cover.

‘Now, I am confident that the new service involving four emergency ambulances and one rapid response vehicle on duty during the day time and three emergency ambulances and one advanced paramedic emergency ambulance on duty during the night time, as well the use of a rapid response vehicle and an intermediate care vehicle for routine transfer of patients between hospitals, will see vast improvements in West Cork.

‘These improvements will be further enhanced by an increase in the number of paramedics working in West Cork. I would like to compliment the constructive participation of the West Cork Paramedic staff in the talks with HSE management on this issue.

‘I have been engaged extensively with HSE Management and the Minister for Health from the outset on this issue, and I very much appreciate the goodwill and flexibility shown by the paramedics of the West Cork Ambulance Service.

‘I hope to see the continued addition of rapid response cars to the fleet of emergency vehicles in West Cork because I believe they will play a very important part in the reform of our hospital system.

‘I have always believed that West Cork is a safer place while there are advanced paramedics stationed permanently in the area. The main difference between an ambulance and a rapid response vehicle is that the vehicle staffed with an advanced paramedic will never leave the area unlike ambulances, which, with the paramedics, can be absent from an area for long periods at a time.

‘The core aim of this reform is to get to the patient faster and to stabilise the patient at the scene. This can only be guaranteed by the permanent presence of paramedics remaining in the locality, and the ideal combination for any area is a combination of both types of vehicles.

‘I would like to express my appreciation to the management of the HSE locally and the NAS for the time and attention in bringing about a safer and more modern ambulance service in West Cork.

‘The HSE management has been extremely responsive and willing to engage with me on this issue from the outset and must be commended for bringing about a new model that is acceptable to everyone.’