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'I've had enough': A Galway GP has invoiced the ambulance service to highlight delays

Dr Peter Sloane says that he wants to draw attention to the lack of resources to the ambulance service in Carraroe.

A file photo of Leo Varadkar in 2015, when he was Minister for Health.
A file photo of Leo Varadkar in 2015, when he was Minister for Health.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A GALWAY-BASED GP has invoiced the National Ambulance Service for attending an ambulance call to highlight its constant delays in responding to emergencies.

Dr Peter Sloane, who’s a GP in Carraroe, Co Galway, has written to the Minister for Health and the National Ambulance Service previously about the wait times for patients who call the service.

He said that on multiple occasions he’s been called to attend an emergency because ambulances were unable to attend for an hour or more.

Although Carraroe has its own ambulance base, because of a lack of resources vehicles are often called to other areas around Galway city, meaning if there’s an emergency call from Carraroe, it will take longer for the ambulance to arrive.

“GPs are not employed, we run businesses and we receive remuneration from the State in the form of capitation for the provision of services,” Sloane said.

“And when the ambulance service rings us to attend an emergency because they’re not available, they just expect us to buy tools, run out of our business, leave the patients that have maybe taken a day off work to come to see me, and go off and be a surrogate for the ambulance service.”

Sloane says that the invoice isn’t about the money, it’s about patients getting the service that’s badly needed.

“In one case I phoned an ambulance crew, and if I had phoned two minutes later they would have been gone to Belmullet which is in excess of a two-hour drive from here.

 This is an ongoing problem and I’m sick of it, I’ve had enough – it needs to be addressed.

Last June, a 60-year-old man who was suffering from an acute medical illness was left waiting on the side of the road for 57 minutes while waiting for an ambulance.

In another case an ambulance had to travel from Roscommon to respond to a call in Carraroe, and in another case the ambulance had a response time of two hours.

Last month a choking toddler had to be brought to hospital in a Garda car due to delays in the ambulance service.

Sloane stressed that the paramedics who are employed are professional and dedicated to their work, it’s that the service as a whole isn’t properly funded.

“Our State provides an ambulance service but doesn’t resource it adequately,” he said.

The National Ambulance Service has been contacted for comment.

Read: Choking toddler brought to Galway hospital by Garda car due to ambulance delay

Read: Elderly Connemara man had to wait 57 minutes on roadside for an ambulance

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