The Loughglynn Ambulance Base is finally set to be occupied from February 1st after agreement was reached at the Workplace Relations Commission between the HSE and the National Ambulance Service.
Last July, the Minister for Health said that discussions (concerning staffing) were nearing a conclusion and that he expected the base to open “soon” how ever it is only six months later than an end appears to be in sight.
The news has been broadly welcomed however Deputy Denis Naughten has been more cautious, describing it as nothing more than a “political band-aid”. Speaking earlier he said “What is to be introduced from 1st February, to serve West Roscommon and East Mayo, is a ‘borrowed’ ambulance from Roscommon Town, which when available will spend most of its time operating in County Mayo and will not serve the people of County Roscommon or East Galway well,” stated Denis Naughten.
“The so-called service is what was found to fail in both Tuam and Mulranny where the bases were originally operated using a borrowed ambulances from Ballinasloe, Galway and Castlebar.
“The service was so poor that it led to a recommendation in a HIQA report in November 2014 calling for an ambulance to be allocated to the Tuam, Mulranny and Loughglynn bases without delay.
“The Tuam and Mulranny borrowed ambulance system was abandoned last year and each base now has a fully functioning ambulance service 24 hours a day. Yet Loughglynn, even with this announcement, remains as the only national ambulance blackspot without a dedicated ambulance.”
The HSE itself has stated in the past with regard to its plan for Loughglynn that “no resources will be moved on a permanent basis day by day. Resources will only be moved as and when the National Emergency Operations Centre deems it appropriate”.
“If this is a system that is not good enough for HIQA, why should it be acceptable to the people of West Roscommon?” asked Denis Naughten. “The other two ambulance blackspots, Tuam and Mulranny, now have a dedicated 24 hour a day/7 day a week ambulance with paramedic staff permanently appointed to the station. So why is Loughglynn being short changed?
“This is just not good enough, and gives a false sense of security to the people of West Roscommon and East Mayo,” said Denis Naughten.
This position was also endorsed by the local Government TD. When asked on Morning Ireland two years ago if there would be additional ambulances and additional staff provided to the new ambulance base in Loughglynn he replied “why would you build an ambulance base if you don’t have extra services and extra staff?”. He was then asked “is that a yes?” and he replied “absolutely”.
“Interestingly, the ambulance that is to be relocated from Roscommon Town is the exact same service that was introduced to the local ambulance station at the time that the Accident & Emergency at Roscommon Hospital was closed,” explained Denis Naughten.
“So when there are more delayed ambulances the people of West Roscommon will be wrongly told that they have a service. This will mean that everybody throughout County Roscommon & East Galway who is now so reliant on having a good ambulance service, will lose out.”