The minister for health James Reilly has ordered an investigation into a case where a Donegal mother had to drive her sick son and a paramedic to hospital because no other ambulance staff were available.
The matter was raised in the Dáil by Donegal South West Deputy, Pearse Doherty who asked whether enhanced ambulance and paramedic services will be made available in Donegal due to concerns among staff in the ambulance service and the general public about cutbacks to frontline services.
“Just last month, the shocking situation came to light whereby a mother drove her unconscious child and a paramedic to Letterkenny General Hospital, highlighting just how close to the bone the service is currently operating at,” Deputy Doherty said.
Responding to the concerns the minister said: “This is a serious matter and I intend to have it investigated. It makes no sense to me that an ambulance would go out on its own and the paramedic would therefore be unavailable. Given the choice between driving or caring for the patient, it does not make any sense.
“I went around the country and met the staff, including ambulance staff, in the regions about the future plans for the health service. One of the paramedics raised an issue with me that I intend to address. Sometimes these very experienced individuals are sent to a house and when they arrive, having examined the patient, they see no reason to bring him or her to hospital but they have no other option. They cannot bring the patient to the out of hours doctor on call, or advise them to wait until the following morning to see his GP. I believe, however, that should be the case; these are highly qualified individuals.”
Deputy Doherty welcomed the commitment given by the Minister that the case will be investigated. “I call on the minister to treat this matter as a priority and recognise the clear need provide reassurance the public that the Ambulance service in the County will be adequately resourced to respond to emergency situations.
“Our ambulance service is not a luxury – it is there to provide an essential emergency health service and there should be no compromise on the level of resources provided to ensure the service operates effectively.”