Letterkenny University Hospital's Emergency Department
Two Donegal County Councillors have expressed their outrage at the National Ambulance Service's response after the councillors raised concerns over the availability of ambulance crews at Letterkenny University Hospital.
Cllrs. Ciaran Brogan and Gerry Crawford are calling for an investigation into why it took over an hour for an ambulance to be dispatched to a location five minutes from Letterkenny University Hospital.
Last week, the councillors, both of whom are members of the Regional Health Forum, highlighted the incident which occurred last month. The family in question waited for an hour for an ambulance to arrive and unfortunately the patient died.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, Cllrs. Brogan and Crawford said they were shocked and outraged at the response from the National Ambulance Service
A statement on the matter issued by the National Ambulance Service on Friday afternoon said an emergency call for a patient in Letterkenny was received and an emergency ambulance was dispatched to the scene.
"The ambulance dispatched was responding from Dungloe, as all other resources were tasked to other high acuity calls. One of these emergency ambulances became free and was immediately dispatched, arriving to the scene within five minutes of being tasked. The ambulance traveling from Dungloe was stood down," the National Ambulance Serve statement said.
The statement added that upon receipt of a complaint in relation to the call, an investigation was established to review the case, engaging with all the relevant stakeholders involved. The National Ambulance Authority also refuted claims of disarray and staff shortages in Donegal made by Clrs Brogan and Crawford.
Reacting to the National Ambulance Service's response, the two Fianna Fail councillors said: "There's a huge disconnect between those in charge of the ambulance service and those who are in need of such a vital service.
“It's clear to be seen that the current model is not working. The family at the centre of this sad and unfortunate incident are still grieving for the loss of their loved one. All they wanted was to make sure that what happened to them six weeks ago would not happen to another family.
"However, the response from the National Ambulance Service has added insult to injury to the grieving family. A full investigation needs to be conducted into this unfortunate case. In our view, the response from the HSE was cold and lacked any regard for the family and the person who sadly passed away.
“As local representatives and members of the Regional Health Forum, we are shocked and outraged at the attitude taken by the HSE.
"When things go wrong, the best thing to do is acknowledge it and apologise. The HSE showed extremely poor judgement in the manner in which they have gone about dealing with this issue.
"The family members of the deceased should be described as such, and not referred to as 'stakeholders'. This is another example of bad PR practice on the HSE's behalf. It should be noted that the family in question have had absolutely no contact whatsoever from the HSE in relation to this incident, despite the HSE's claim to the contrary."
The councillors insist the full sequence of events needs to be established. They are calling on the HSE to deal with this matter thoroughly, while also affording the family compassion, respect and dignity.