A frustrated Connemara GP has written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, urging him to tackle the lack of ambulance cover in the Connemara area.
In the letter, the GP, one of four in the south Connemara area covering Carraroe, Lettermore, Lettermullen, Rosmuc and the surrounding hinterland, highlighted an incident which saw him waiting for an ambulance for 57 minutes while he treated a 60-year-old man with a life-threatening acute illness at the side of the road in south Connemara on Saturday night.
The GP who was working through a mammoth 57-hour shift revealed that he administered oxygen to the man for which the GP had to pay, and had Carraroe ambulance base been manned it would have only been a 10 minute wait.
According to the GP, the long wait in ambulance times is not a one-off incident, pointing to one occasion where the response time was 120 minutes and another where the ambulance had to come from Roscommon to Carraroe.
The GP stated the long delays were unacceptable and that the long ambulance response times would result in deaths in the future.
Speaking in light of the criticism, Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said the Minister for Health must take responsibility for inadequate ambulance cover for Connemara which is putting lives at risk.
The Senator said; “It is quite clear that the ambulance services are completely under resourced and lives are being put at risk on a daily basis because this Government have not provided the necessary resources. This must stop.
“The community of north Connemara have also been highlighting similar issues with ambulance cover in their area for the last number of years. They met Minister Harris to highlight the dangers and he has kicked to touch completely on the problems they presented. That is simply unacceptable.
“We also need to look at the other supports that can be provided to ambulance services in rural areas by the fire service personnel, community ambulances, and first responders. We need to utilise all the available resources in the most effective and efficient manner.
“The Government and the Minister however, must take full responsibility for any fatalities that happen due to a lack of priority on their part for the resourcing of rural ambulance services.”
The HSE could not be reached for comment.