Carrick man waits almost two hours for ambulance to hospital

editorial image

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has responded to claims that a Carrick man had to wait for over an hour and a half before being taken to hospital.

The Woodburn resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, had to wait almost two hours for an ambulance to transport him to hospital on December 19 2016.

The man had a kidney transplant in 2015, but has since experienced complications. A NIAS spokesperson confirmed the man’s GP called the emergency services for an ambulance to be sent to him at 4:17pm. The call was categorised at Category B, for which NIAS seeks to provide a response within 21 minutes. NIAS responded to this call within eight minutes with a Rapid Response Paramedic.

Following the paramedic’s assessment at the scene, he requested an ambulance to transport the patient to hospital. This request was received in the ambulance control centre at 4:44pm and an ambulance was despatched at 4:47pm.

The NIAS spokesperson said: “While on route, NIAS received a Category A call, which is potentially immediately life-threatening and the crew were diverted to the more serious call. All other crews, one in Carrick and two in Whiteabbey, were engaged on other emergency calls. As time passed, and the controller became aware ambulances were not going to be available within an immediate time-frame, use was made of a single person who was available to team up with the paramedic.”

They added: “This decision was made in the interests of the patient who may have had to endure a longer wait had the controller not acted in a mature and responsible way. The Trust believes the initiative displayed by the controller to make use of all available resources is to be commended.

“The crew left the address with the patient at 5:59pm and the paramedic returned to his vehicle just over an hour later. NIAS would not consider this to be a ‘considerable’ length of time when weighed against a patient’s needs.”

Commenting on the incident, Carrickfergus PUP representative, Jim McCaw said: “This issue seriously needs addressed. It’s bad when a paramedic has to leave his vehicle unattended with specialist equipment on board.

“Apparently this is not the first time the area has been left short of cover. However, I must praise the Ambulance Service for the great job they do with limited resources.”