Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the National Ambulance Service (NAS) to clarify why there has been no increase in the number of ambulances covering all the major towns in County Tipperary since at least 2017. Deputy McGrath was speaking as data released to him by the NAS confirmed that Clonmel, Thurles, Cashel, Tipperary Town, Nenagh and Roscrea each still have only one Emergency Ambulance to cover night duty from Monday-Sunday each week:
“The reply given to me also shows that there is not a single Rapid Response Vehicle for either Day or Night Duty in Thurles, Nenagh, Roscrea, or Cashel.
In January of 2017 I was informed by the NAS that following its detailed Capacity Review, the urgent recruitment of additional staff and vehicles would occur over the following four years.
Yet here we are, almost two years on and not a single extra ambulance or Rapid Response Vehicle has been provided to cover all of the major urban centres in County Tipperary, to say nothing of the more rural towns and villages.
This is totally unacceptable given the ongoing chaos and numbers attending the A&E in South Tipperary General and Limerick Regional.
The NAS are talking about developing a ‘single cohesive strategic plan for ambulance services called Vision 2020.’
How many more strategies do we need?
We also need clear answers about the impact that the review of the HSE Capital Expenditure Plan will have on ambulance numbers following the scandalous increase in costs associated with the National Children’s Hospital.
Just like, the rural transport network, the level of ambulance cover in rural counties is being held together by a skeleton service that is totally insufficient to meet the demand that exists.
Where the staff does exist they are being denied their right to join a Union of their choice by the HSE and this again is leading to a deepening of the crisis because of the strike action it is bringing about.
Increasing ambulance cover and the availability of rapid response vehicles is the only answer. Why do we need to wait another number of years to officially arrive at this conclusion,” said Deputy McGrath.