Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has met with Ambulance Service officials, including Chief Executive Shane Devlin, to discuss the future of the Ambulance Service in South Down.
A number of worrying incidents in recent times has raised local concerns that ambulance cover is not adequate for such a large rural area and the South Down MLA was keen to explore what reforms can be introduced to improve future capacity.
Mr Hazzard said:
“Recently too many patients in South Down have been forced to wait unsatisfactory times for an ambulance to arrive – leaving some with no choice but to make their own way to the Ulster Hospital in Belfast. I was heartened to learn that Ambulance Service are planning to introduce significant reforms to their operations that will see a much improved performance for areas such as South Down.
“Modifications to call handling, classification, and widespread workforce planning improvements will hopefully bear fruits for our local community as capacity problems have dogged performance for too long now.”
The local MLA also raised the extremely poor performance of the Ulster Hospital in turning around ambulances within the targeted 30mins.
“Unlike the Daisy Hill in Newry and Altnagelvin in Derry – who both release approx 70% ambulances back into the local area on time, the Ulster Hospital in Belfast only releases 29% of ambulances within 30 mins. This has a hugely negative impact on ambulance cover in the wider Down area.
“This is an issue that must be tackled urgently – it is entirely unacceptable that this problem persists year after year. It is crucial now that South Eastern Trust officials sit down with the Ambulance Service and find an increasing role for the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick to alleviate the pressure.”