REPORTS about a possible downgrading of the ambulance service in East Clare have been refuted by the Mid-West Health Service Executive (HSE). East Clare Councillor Joe Cooney has expressed concern about reports that the HSE were allegedly planning to remove full-time and on-call ambulance cover from the Scariff Ambulance Station on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night between 8pm and 8am.
Councillor Cooney recalled that Clare county councillors were given an assurance by Health Minister Mary Harney that the ambulance service in Clare would be upgraded once 24-hour accident and emergency services were removed from the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis last April.
He stressed that he would fight any attempts to remove the increased cover in Scariff, which provides around the clock cover, between full-time and on-call, since A&E services were removed at night from Ennis hospital.
Councillor Pat Hayes said he would be totally opposed to any change to the existing service, which is providing a vital life-saving facility for people living in East Clare, particularly those in rural areas.
Cora Long, one of the founders of an action committee in Scariff who campaigned for three years to provide full cover for the local ambulance service, said the group decided to remain in situ just in case any new threat emerged in the near future.
She warned that if the reported changes were introduced, it would mean that Scariff would lose cover for 36 hours a week, which the group would be totally opposed to.
However, in a statement issued to The Clare Champion, the HSE stressed that it had no intention of downgrading the ambulance service in County Clare.
Chief ambulance officer, Pat Daly stated that the improvements in the ambulance service in the Mid-West, in terms of personnel, equipment and staff training in recent years, are well known and independently verifiable.
“Changing work practices and upskilling staff is always subject to negotiation and we have a long established relationship with the unions in this regard,” he said.
Mr Daly said that reconfiguration of ambulance services in the Mid-West over the past six months had saved lives and the forthcoming Resus conference in Bunratty would see publication of new proof of the success.
“Since last April, 10 extra paramedics have been assigned to Ennis, two to Scariff and we propose to put three more into Ennistymon within the next few months,” he added.