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Minister must protect existing Ambulance provision in North Antrim‏

18 November, 2008

Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA, Daithí McKay has appealed to the Minister of Health, Michael McGimpsey to clarify his intentions for the future provision of Ambulance Services in North Antrim.

Mr McKay said;

"I took the opportunity during an Assembly debate to convey the concerns of North Antrim constituents as well as the many front line Ambulance Service workers regarding the Minister's comprehensive spending review and it's impact on the Ambulance Service in North Antrim.

"North Antrim and the Glens in particular suffered wilful neglect under successive direct rule Health Ministers and it would be shameful if such neglect should be allowed to continue under Minister McGimpsey. North Antrim is one of the largest constituencies in the North and is sparsely populated in many parts. If the Minister intends to replace Accident & Emergency Ambulances here with Rapid Response Vehicles, as many suspect, the failure of such a move in Wales should serve as a lesson that, what may work in urban areas, will not in rural communities."

Mr McKay continued;

"Rapid Response Vehicles may well work in urban areas, in certain situations. However, the reality is that we are already in a situation in North Antrim where on many occasions Ambulance response times fall well short of expectations with delays of up to one hour. Imagine the consequences of a Rapid Response Vehicle being similarly delayed then arriving at the scene ill equipped to deliver the necessary services of an Accident & Emergency Ambulance.

"I reminded the Minister that of the 10 Accident & Emergency Ambulances currently deployed in North Antrim, all have over 100,000 miles on the clock with 8 having travelled over 150,000 miles. When I appealed for him to consider replacing and upgrading the current stock, rather than substituting them with unsuitable RRVs, he stated his intention to purchase 60 new Accident & Emergency Vehicles over the next three years. I will continue to lobby on this matter and above all, those who work on the front line Ambulance Service, for vehicles best suited to the needs of North Antrim rather than substitutes, incapable of providing a level of service thus far denied." ENDS

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