Kerrane says ambulance service ‘quietly downgraded’

Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane has told the Dáil that the “quiet downgrading” of the ambulance service for the people of Roscommon will not be tolerated.

Raising the issue on the floor of the Dáil recently, Deputy Kerrane said, “For the last twelve years in Roscommon there has been an Advanced Paramedic on the Rapid Response Vehicle on a 24/7 basis.

“This was committed to by Fine Gael and the HSE after they closed the Accident & Emergency Unit in 2011 to ensure Advanced Life Support was always provided, given the A&E was no longer there. A separate roster of Advanced Paramedics for the Rapid Response Vehicle was put in place and up until last year, it has been in place.

“In 2015, Leo Varadkar re-stated that a rapid response vehicle crewed by an Advanced Paramedic providing 24/7 cover in Roscommon was one of the ‘significant improvements’ made in Roscommon because of the closure of the A&E. He went on to state his intention to drive further improvements to the ambulance service.

“Instead, very quietly last May, it was decided that a Paramedic would fill a place on the Advanced Paramedic roster. This is not acceptable for the people of Roscommon”.

The TD said that the National Ambulance Service had told her recently that Rapid Response Vehicles are resourced by both Paramedics and Advanced Paramedics, and that this isn’t unique to Roscommon and happens elsewhere nationally.

“Now that misses the point, which I have already outlined, not to mention the fact that for people living in Roscommon they are further away from an Emergency Department.

“In the latest reply I have received from the HSE, they have gone a step further in telling me that essentially Paramedics and Advanced Paramedics are the same. That in recent years, Paramedics have been upskilled to be able to carry out duties similar to that of Advanced Paramedics.

“Advanced Paramedics are the only staff in the ambulance service that can currently provide Advanced Life Support.

“I want to be very clear, I am not in any way taking away from the role of a Paramedic, they are critical for our Ambulance Service. My point here is a commitment was made to the people of Roscommon and it has been broken.

“I am asking that the roster of Advanced Paramedics be restored immediately and I will continue to pursue this until that happens”, Deputy Kerrane con