Protest in Youghal over plans to replace ambulance


SOME 1,000 people took part in a protest in Youghal, Co Cork, over the weekend over plans by the Health Service Executive to replace the town ambulance service with a first responder paramedic car.

Protesters said that if a medical emergency happens from next month, the patient will have to wait at least 20 minutes before an ambulance from Midleton, Dungarvan, Fermoy or even Cork city arrives to take them to hospital.

Jim Flanagan, public relations officer with the Save Youghal Ambulance Group, said locals have assembled in large numbers on three occasions in recent days to express their anxiety about the loss of the ambulance service.

“This [Saturday’s protest] is the third time we have met within 10 days so it is terrific to think that people feel so passionate about this issue.”

Mayor of Youghal Cllr Eoin Coyne (FF) told Cork’s 96FM radio station that the HSE would have to start paying attention now that people are protesting in such “huge numbers”.

The campaign has received the support of amongst others Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan, who said a rapid response vehicle manned by a medical technician is not the same as an ambulance manned by advanced paramedics.

“At some stage it won’t work and lives will be lost,” Ms McLellan said.

Last month a public meeting convened by the Youghal ambulance protest group, was read an e-mail sent by the HSE to Labour TD Seán Sherlock in March.

The message said the proposal was not cost-saving, but part of a phased strategy to abolish on-call ambulance services nationally and without budget cuts.

The HSE has previously said traditional work practices within the service are changing to ensure the needs of people in Cork and Kerry continue to be met in an integrated, safe and effective way.