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McGimpsey ambulance funding challenged

22 October, 2008

Councillor Oliver McMullan has questioned Health Minister Michael McGimpsey's recent announcement of additional funding for the Ambulance Service and fears a 'slight of hand'.

The Sinn Féin Councillor for Moyle explained;

"Whilst I was one of the first to welcome the Minister's announcement of additional funding, upon investigation and in consultation with local Ambulance Service workers, I am beginning to fear that rural communities in North Antrim may suffer a reduction in services whilst urban areas gain.

"Moves are afoot which may see the Ballymoney day shift move to Coleraine; the loss of the Ballymena day shift to make way for a night shift in Antrim; and the possibility of a Rapid Response Vehicle replacing an Ambulance in Ballycastle."

"I have no doubt that Coleraine and Antrim are deserving of the additional investment but who's paying?

"At first glance one would have assumed the additional funding to be new money, but now it would appear to be a transfer of services from the rural, less populated parts such as Ballymoney and Moyle."

Oliver concluded;

"Rapid Response Vehicles are designed to support Ambulances, not replace them. The loss of an Ambulance in Moyle could prove fatal and I will be strongly opposing any such move. I'm calling upon the Minister to come clean on this issue and confirm that cuts in rural services will not be made to finance urban improvements." ENDS

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