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Cuts to ambulance services causing deep distress - O'Neill

11 August, 2008 - by Michelle O'Neill

Cuts to ambulance services causing deep distress - O'Neill

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill, commenting on planned cuts to the ambulance service across the North has expressed deep concern for people in need of these essential services, particularly those living in rural communities.

Ms O'Neill said,

"Planned cuts to the ambulance service will devastate people right across the Six Counties; how this is viewed as beneficial or as a cost saving exercise to the health system is beyond me.

The idea that cutting fifteen thousand hours will in some way reassure people is a nonsense. The planned replacement of Ambulances with Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV's) is genuinely worrying for many people who may find themselves in need of a fully equipped ambulance, able to transfer them to a hospital. The RRV's will be unable to do that.

These proposals will have an effect right across the North and no one area is left unaffected. Rural communities in particular feel they need a greater degree of investment from the health service and increased ambulance provision; they will be particularly worried at today's news. It will also affect our many front line health workers who are growing increasingly disheartened by news of the planned cuts.

I call on the Minister to clarify the reported cuts in today's media and explain why, after he said that there would be no cuts to ambulance cover under the comprehensive spending review (CSR), there is now a leaked document claiming that there will.

These proposals will be out for public consultation within weeks and I would call on people to make submissions to that consultation and make their feelings known.


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