A CALL has been made for an official investigation into the five-hour delay for the arrival of an ambulance in Tulla on Tuesday, despite three phone calls from a local general practitioner.
Senator Timmy Dooley made the call for an inquiry into the circumstances that led to this shocking time for medical intervention.
The Fianna Fail Senator has contacted Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to seek an urgent review of this case, and the entire provision of ambulance services in the Mid-West.
“I am absolutely shocked to hear someone would be left in a doctor’s surgery waiting for an ambulance for more than five hours. It beggars belief.
“This issue needs to be thoroughly investigated. My suspicious is it is as a result of an ambulance service that is over stretched and under resourced.
“While recognising ambulance services were reconfigured, that was dependant on an efficient use of our ambulance service. Ambulance cover was increased a few years ago and the Scariff base was put on 24-hour cover.”
He expressed concern the five-hour wait illustrates a much deeper problem, which he will be following up to get a satisfactory answer.
If more resources are required, he pledged to lobby “day and night” to get this resolved.
“This wasn’t a routine call. This was a determination made by the local general practitioner. In his professional opinion, an ambulance was required. It wasn’t a self-diagnosis on behalf of the patient.
“When a doctor believes an ambulance is required to take someone into hospital, that is a serious issue, which needs a response in a timeframe less than five hours.”
The Clare Champion interviewed an Ennis woman who drove a female in her fifties to a surgery in Tulla for medical attention.
The driver, who opted to remain anonymous, recalled a doctor decided this patient needed to be transported by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
“The doctor phoned for an ambulance at 11.45am. The doctor rang three times and I rang at 4.18pm. The ambulance arrived to the surgery at 5pm. It was a family member who was waiting for the ambulance. This is like a third world service.
“I don’t know how they couldn’t have deployed another ambulance to the area. Surely something else could have been done. It was too risky for me to take them to the hospital in a car.
“You can’t drive on a motorway with a sick person because if something happens, what do you do. People are not inclined to stop and help anyone if they are stopped on a motorway due to Covid-19.
“I wouldn’t stop on the motorway unless I had another person with me and the person requiring help was on their own in view of all the scams that are currently in operation.”
She said they were fortunate the doctor and his staff, who were exceptionally good to the patient, allowed them to remain on in the surgery.
The patient was still receiving treatment in UHL on Wednesday afternoon.
In response to Clare Champion queries, the National Ambulance Service said, “The HSE cannot comment on individual cases. Maintaining a client’s confidentiality is not only an ethical requirement for the HSE, it is also a legal requirement as defined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) along with the Data Protection Acts 1988-2018.
“In recent months, health services, including Emergency Departments and the National Ambulance Service (NAS), continue to experience a surge in demand for services at a time when staff are also working hard to support Covid-19 related swabbing and vaccinations.
“At this time, the level of demand now exceeds the levels experienced in 2019, i.e. pre pandemic.
“Our staff continue to work incredibly hard trying to deliver normal health services, respond to the pandemic and support some staff whom needed to get annual leave during peak holiday season.
“The HSE is incredibly thankful for the continuing efforts of all of our staff in what remains challenging circumstances.
“As demand can exceed available resources, 999 calls are clinically triaged and prioritised to ensure that those patients with life threatening injuries or conditions receive the fastest response possible.
“If a 999 call is not time critical, then during busy periods, these calls will wait longer for a response. Thankfully, it remains the case that the majority of 999 calls do not relate to life threatening emergencies.
“For those calls that are not life threatening or clinically serious, the HSE encourages callers to consider other options such as GPs, Minor Injury Units, Pharmacists or Self Care.
“If you call 999 and your call is triaged as not life threatening or serious, we will respond as soon as we can.”
by Dan Danaher