Ambulance sent from north Mayo to south Connemara for heart attack case, GP says

‘If the equivalent was highlighted in Dublin, no TD would accept it’

The ambulance sent from Ballina took 90 minutes to reach Carraroe, via Maam Cross. File photograph: Alan Betson

An ambulance had to travel 131 km from north Mayo to attend a heart attack case in south Connemara, a Galway GP has said.

Dr Peter Sloane, who has a general practise in Carraroe, said it was an "utter disgrace" that there was no closer ambulance available.

The case involved a patient with a heart attack last Friday, and the ambulance sent from Ballina took 90 minutes from the north Mayo town to Carraroe, via Maam Cross.

Dr Sloane needed to see an elderly patient who was very unwell, but could not leave the patient with the heart attack until the ambulance arrived.


Carraroe has an ambulance base, and Galway city provides back-up cover. Dr Sloane said he understood there were insufficient ambulance crews available.

Pressure on University Hospital Galway’s emergency department can also delay crews taking in patients.

The round-trip by the ambulance to and from north Mayo was equivalent to an ambulance in Athlone being sent to an area of Dublin and back, Dr Sloane said.

“If the equivalent was highlighted in Dublin, no TD would accept it,”he said. “There is an urgent need to provide more ambulances and more emergency medical technicians, and to treat all citizens equally.”

He also said this was not the first time, but it highlighted the continuing failure by the State to provide sufficient resources to rural areas.

The Health Service Executive (HSE)said the call was "triaged, using the internationally recognised advanced medical priority dispatch system".

“This system prioritises calls using internationally agreed procedures and protocols, thus ensuring that life-threatening and potentially life-threatening calls receive an appropriate response. The closest emergency ambulance was immediately dispatched to the scene,”it said.

It said it could “confirm that Dr Sloane has contacted the National Ambulance Service directly on the matter, and the service will be in contact with Dr Sloane as per normal procedure”.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times