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HSE to modernise North Cork's ambulance service

The plans include a move from the current on duty system to one where staff are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Nov 21st 2012, 4:54 PM 4,606 14

THE HSE HAS announced plans to modernise the North Cork ambulance service

It said that representatives from the HSE’s National Ambulance Service (NAS) and senior HSE management met with GPs, public representatives and community groups in North Cork on Monday to update them on the plans.

This followed a recent agreement between NAS staff, management and SIPTU union representatives about a model of service.

According to the HSE, the new ‘on duty’ system and improved rostering arrangements “will ensure service delivery is no longer affected by fatigue issues arising with the ‘on call’ system”.

Modernisation plans

The modernisation plans will see a move to a new ‘on duty’ 24/7 system (from the current ”on duty’/'on call’ system) in Mallow, Kanturk, Millstreet and Macroom, which will run Monday to Sunday from 8am to 8am, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The modernisation is to happen on a phased basis. The HSE said this new ‘on duty’ practice “means that the activation time to respond to emergency calls after 8pm will be improved as paramedics will no longer be responding to a call from their own home”.

The ‘on duty’ staff will use a mix of emergency ambulances and a rapid response vehicle to respond to emergency calls.

According to the HSE:

The fleet of vehicles and paramedic staff will be dynamically deployed meaning that they will be located in areas of North Cork where they are most likely to be required, rather than statically deployed at a particular station, as they are now.

The HSE noted that since the introduction of the Intermediate Care Vehicle (ICV) service in Mallow earlier this year, emergency ambulances have been freed up substantially to respond to 999 and urgent GP calls. It is the NAS’s intention to further develop the ICV service to enhance the availability of emergency ambulances.

Dr Cathal O’Donnell, medical director of the National Ambulance Service and Consultant in Emergency Medicine said that the NAS has invested significantly in recent years in training ambulance staff to very high standard in both paramedic and Advanced Paramedics.

The elimination of ‘on call’ in the region now sees three emergency ambulances and a Rapid Response Vehicle available in the North Cork area, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring people having equal and timely access to highly skilled Paramedic and Advanced Paramedic staff day or night.

Read: People of West Cork protesting the loss of fourth ambulance>

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Aoife Barry


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