Fears are growing in a Co Tipperary town that they are about to lose one of two ambulances bases they were given as part of a High Court agreement when their local hospital was downgraded.
A public meeting has been held in Cashel at which locals expressed concern that people will die because of a HSE review of ambulance services which could see one of the bases move outside the town.
According to the National Ambulance Service, negotiations are under way between unions and staff but “not with a view to reducing the service but with a view to examining where bases should be located”.
Willie Merriman of the ambulance service conceded that the town ambulances may not remain at Cashel Ambulance Station but if that decision was made, it would be because the ambulance would respond to calls faster if it was located elsewhere.
Mr Merriman said the organisation was reviewing ambulances services all over the south east as response times were not fast enough.
But Fine Gael councillor, Mary Hanna Hourigan, told a HSE South meeting the Cashel ambulances “had to cover a massive rural area and should remain as they were as Cashel was very central”.
“We are currently reviewing the High Court Agreement that we signed with the Health South Eastern Board which promised us two ambulances in Cashel when acute surgical services were stopped at Our Lady’s Hospital.
“These ambulances are covering from Holywood down to Ballyporeen. It’s a huge rural area and people are feeling very frightened”.
Fianna Fáil councillor Sean McCarthy has said that the Cashel base “is centrally-based on the N8 motorway with fast access to hospitals at Cork, Limerick and Waterford thus ensuring that speed and reaction times in emergencies are optimised.
“This is a disgrace and a scandal which must not be allowed to happen. It is not a political decision but an executive administrative one being made to prioritise Carlow over Cashel.”
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