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Health Minister’s ‘spin’ cannot disguise loss of ambulance capacity

10 September, 2009 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill, deputy Chairperson of the Assembly Health Committee, has said lives will be lost as a result of Michael McGimpsey’s decision to implement plans to cut the ambulance cover available.

Ms O’Neill said:

“No amount of spin can disguise the fact that Michael McGimpsey has given the green light to a loss of ambulance provision.

“The proposed additional hours and the introduction of Rapid Response Vehicles will not compensate for the loss of ambulance cover or the lost capacity in getting injured people to hospital quickly and safely.

“The Minister makes much of the fact that he has invested in the ambulance fleet but the question has be asked; is he investing in the right equipment. Health professionals have made it clear that they have serious concerns about the use of RRVs as an alternative to proper ambulance cover.

“This is a short-sighted approach. This is not the way to make savings. This is more about meeting response time targets. Ambulance personnel need to be given all the support we can to allow them to do their job.

“I am concerned that people could die as a direct result of this decision. Michael McGimpsey has failed to listen to the reasonable concern of people right across the north, particularly from rural areas, and specifically from staff who have concerns about the loss of ambulance cover.” ENDS

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