Protest over plans to reduce rural ambulance service


MORE THAN 1,000 people took to the streets of Skibbereen in west Cork at the weekend to protest over planned changes to the ambulance service in the region.

Campaigners say the proposed new service will leave just two ambulances on call from 8pm to 8am to service 82,000 people in an area from the tip of the Mizen peninsula to Sheep’s Head and to the end of the Beara peninsula.

Organisers of Saturday’s march say the move to a paramedic on-call model will result in the loss of two of the four ambulances on call in the region, with Castletownbere and Skibbereen being without ambulance services at night. When not staffed, the Skibbereen and Castletownbere bases would each have one paramedic on duty in a car.

Spokeswoman for the Beara section of the campaign Annemarie Cronin said residents in the area were extremely anxious about the issue because it was a “life and death situation”.

The mayor of Skibbereen, Cllr Frank Fahy, said the next step for the campaign was a meeting with the HSE and ambulance officials, with talks due on December 12th in Skibbereen.

The HSE has previously said that traditional work practices within the ambulance service were changing to ensure the needs of people in Cork and Kerry continued to be met in an integrated and safe way within available resources.