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Sinn Féin uncover threat to Antrim ambulance provision

16 February, 2007

North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly election candidate Daithí McKay has expressed concern after receiving a leaked internal memo from the Ambulance Service to Operations Directorate Command and Control concerning ambulance provision in North and East Antrim.

Cllr McKay said:

"This memo states clearly that if there are two ambulances are stationed in Larne and one in Whiteabbey that second Larne vehicle must be 'immediately' dispatched to Whiteabbey. It also states that if there is only one ambulance available between Larne and Whiteabbey then that vehicle should be sited in Whiteabbey thus leaving no coverage in Larne.

"Also in the memo it states that Ambulance Services from further up the division will have to be dispatched from Ballycastle and from further enquiries made by myself it appears that Ballymena ambulances will be called in to cover East Antrim also. Ambulance provision in the Ballycastle and Glens area is already a major issue and if these plans are implemented then it will make a bad situation even worse.

"The question has to be asked - What is causing this crisis and what cover is available for Larne and Whiteabbey if Ballycastle and indeed Ballymena services are called out? These are some of the questions that will be put to the Northern Health Board and the Ambulance Service at the emergency meeting in Ballymena County Hall on 2nd March."

The East Antrim Sinn Féin Representative Oliver McMullan called the emergency meeting.

Cllr McMullan said:

"The basic problem is that there is insufficient ambulance cover across the North and East Antrim area and now what is being proposed only exposes this fundamental problem.

"The main problem with this shortage in East Antrim is that when the A&E Unit was closed in Whiteabbey no extra provision was given to alleviate the extra burden on the ambulance service. Strangely enough when the A&E Unit in the Mid-Ulster was closed, at the same time as Whiteabbey, Magherafelt Station got an extra ambulance and crew. Again this is something that we will be bringing up at the meeting next month." ENDS

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