‘Clear need for more crews and vehicles’

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Under-resourcing of the health service is responsible for the level of ambulance provision in Carrick, according to East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.

Mr. Dickson was commenting on claims in last week’s Times that a Woodburn patient had to wait for over an hour-and-a-half before being taken to hospital.

The man had a kidney transplant in 2015 but has since experienced complications. A call from the man’s GP was classed as category B to which NIAS seeks to provide a response withing 21 minutes.

Mr. Dickson stated: “There is clear need for more ambulance crews and vehicles, the system is under stress and the current cash scandal will not help.”

The ongoing strain on ambulance services across the east Antrim region has been highlighted by stark figures released last month.

The issue came to light after a Facebook post by police on December 11, which stated the only ambulance in service across Whiteabbey, Larne and Carrick had been unavailable to attend call-outs due to an incident the previous day.

PSNI and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) spokespersons were quick to state in the days following there had been ample coverage.

However, the figures obtained by the Times with regards to the coverage on December 10, show that staff had to join up to make a full ambulance crew.

Mr. Dickson added: “In the view of the public, there is probably a shortage of an ambulance and crew.

“That is not a criticism of the ambulance service, but a criticism of the funding available. I think this shows that there is a systematic problem not with crews or staffing but with under-resourcing.”

“People pay a great deal of income tax and National Insurance towards health care.