IT is dangerous and disgraceful that a woman had to wait almost three hours for an ambulance following a biking accident in Glenamoy on Wednesday, according to local Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh.
The nearest ambulance at the time of the incident was in Clifden, Co. Galway, which is 144 kilometres away.
The woman was assessed by GP at the scene who deemed her fit to be taken by car to Belmullet Garda Station.
Speaking on Midwest Radio Senator Conway-Walsh said: “Having to take this woman to a garda station when she obviously needed to get to hospital in an emergency situation is indicative of the crisis within the ambulance and wider health service.
“While this incident is shocking it is not surprising to us here in Mayo and in rural Ireland. It is one of many such incidents happening on a regular basis and reflects the lack of investment in the service and the errors in the configuration of the system.
“It is obvious there is not a sufficient number of ambulances to meet the emergency health needs of the 130,000 population living in Mayo covering a wide geographic spread of the county.
“The only way this is going to be solved is by having additional ambulances and crews based in the county.
“The existing services do a tremendous job but they cannot be in two places at the one time. They have to travel long distances on atrocious roads such as the R312 connecting Belmullet to Mayo University Hospital.
“They also have to experience exceptionally long handover times when they arrive at the hospital because of the chaos in the emergency department which is severely understaffed.
“I am asking the government to provide the proper investment needed for our ambulance service. Lives are being put at risk and premature deaths will occur unless patients in need of emergency care can get to hospital on time.
“The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has to use his position at the cabinet table to address this problem. It is the least people who have supported him over the decades deserve.
“I am also calling on the HSE to work out a formal protocol with the Order of Malta services who do wonderful work in communities so that there is positive collaboration to meet the needs of these communities and the use of their skills and equipment are maximised.”