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A Kilrush woman recently had to endure an eight-hour wait for an ambulance.

Elderly woman had to wait eight hours on floor for ambulance

EMERGENCY response times for West Clare patients are back in the spotlight again after a Kilrush woman endured an eight-hour wait for an ambulance.

The elderly woman did receive medical assistance from a member of the fire brigade and off-duty medical person while she was left lying on the floor in her home.

This case was highlighted at a recent HSE West Forum meeting by Councillor Cillian Murphy where he stressed eight hours was too long for anyone to be waiting who needs hospital care even if it wasn’t a high acuity case.

The Kilkee-based councillor said this person would have been ideal to receive treatment from a community paramedic.

“If an eight-hour wait is what we are expecting, I would like a response on that.”

Chief Ambulance Officer, J J McGowan admitted the ambulance response time fell short of their standards.

“If you would like to send us the details, we would like to see what happened in that scenario.”

After trialling the community paramedic programme in the border counties, Mr McGowan recalled it worked very well as a hospital avoidance initiative.

Councillor Murphy expressed his concern after renewing his call for the roll out of the community paramedic programme in Clare.

Mr McGowan outlined the community paramedic programme for the Mid-West currently operates from Co Limerick.

Although based in County Limerick, the community paramedic responds to low acuity calls in Clare when the time response is not critical.

“The National Ambulance Service (NAS) is currently engaged with our regulator the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) in regards to inclusion of community paramedics on the licencing register for pre-hospital emergency care in Ireland.

“When this is finalised it is envisaged that the expansion of the community paramedic programme will commence nationally.

Councillor Murphy pointed out Limerick is a long way away from a lot of locations in the county such as West Clare, if the sole base is operating from there.

“Clare is a very large county and is very long. Is this geographical spread of concern given the community paramedic base operates out of Limerick.

“If we are looking at it on an equity basis, is the base in Limerick compared to some of the places in West Clare a similar geographical spread that you would see in other places where this is operational,” he asked.

Mr McGowan confirmed extensive talks have occurred, which it is hoped should be concluded and finalised in the early part of 2023 to facilitate an expansion of the programme.

He said the NAS would like to see the community paramedic programme and the Pathfinder initiative rolled out at national level.

Councillor Murphy told the Clare Champion he had followed up his question with a separate query to the head of the NAS West on October 27, but hasn’t received a reply yet.

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