Ward presses HSE on ambulance service

The issue of who is entitled to avail of ambulance-type transport to and from hospitals for appointments and procedures was an isssue raised by Independent Cllr. Tony Ward at the most recent meeting of the HSE West.    Cllr. Ward proposed a motion as follows: ‘That this forum requests the HSE to provide a transport system for elderly and disabled patients who have to attend a local or regional hospital either as an outpatient or to undergo a particular procedure.’   Cllr. Ward raised the issue because of queries he received from a couple of local people in his area who were refused transport despite the fact that they were elderly (in one case) and disabled (in the other).   ‘I have had two cases of people affected by this in recent months. One is an elderly person who is almost 80 and who is suffering from arthritis and is partly paralysed. This person was refused transport to a hospital appointment as was a young disabled person in much the same position’ said Cllr. Ward.    ‘Surely we can arrange a system whereby there is a link between hospital appointments and the transport system to make sure people are looked after. I am not talking about ambulance transport but surely it is not beyond the means of the people here to look after the vulnerable people in our society’ he said.    ‘What’s happening in a lot of cases is that people have to get a train and then a taxi to the hospital and then another taxi back to the train again. It’s costing people a fortune’ he said.    ‘It comes down to funding but what I want is a better service for the people who need it most.  Surely we can find a way to help the patients who need to go to hospital appointments and for small but essential procedures. This is an issue that I intend to pursue until I get a result’ concluded Cllr. Ward.   In reply to his motion the HSE West state that the ambulance transport service is essentially there for emergency cases only and that in other cases and because of a shortage of funding transport is restricted to medical card holders who are oncology patients, organ transplant patients and patients with short-term acute lower limb injuries.