Omagh Ambulance Services being stretched to breaking point
Omagh Sinn Féin Cllr Mickey Mc Anespie says that ambulance services in the Omagh area are being stretched to breaking point and are only being sustained due to the sheer dedication of ambulance staff personnel who are having to work additional shifts to ensure ambulance cover is provided for the people of the area.
Omagh Cllr Mc Anespie said the situation has arisen because lack of forward planning by the Department of Health.
"The replacement of the A&E with the Emergency Care Unit at Tyrone County in March placed an additional burden on local ambulance services.
"For example, it has entailed more patient transfers to other hospitals with full blown A&E yet local ambulance personnel are being expected to provide adequate cover locally with the same limited resources.
"In May, I was part of a delegation of councillors from Tyrone's four councils and Magherafelt Council who met with Ambulance Service Chiefs to demand additional resources for our areas.
"In regards to Omagh, Ambulance Chiefs have promised 2 additional ambulance staff and 4 minibus drivers to take account of the extra pressures. However, they said that it would be December at the earliest before these personnel could be trained up and put in place.
"The fact that these additional staff were not in place in March when the service changes at Tyrone County happened points to a total lack of forward planning by the Department of Health. The Department knew well in advance that these changes were coming but failed to make the necessary arrangements with the Ambulance Service so that it would be in a position to meet the demands of the changed circumstances.
"But for the dedication of local ambulance staff and their willingness to work well beyond the call of duty by taking on additional shifts, I dread to think of what the situation would be. Despite this dedication, they are being rewarded with the most cramped and dilapidated of conditions at the local ambulance depot and with the new staff coming on board it is imperative that the upgrading of these facilities becomes a priority. Through Council, I will be pursuing this upgrade issue with the appropriate Health Authorities." ENDS