Plans to modernise the ambulance service in north Cork will begin next month.
One of the region’s four ambulances will be replaced with an emergency response vehicle, and paramedics will move from on-call to on-duty.
The same kind of reconfiguration has been implemented in East Cork but campaigners in West Cork are fighting to retain their region’s four ambulances.
The changes in north Cork were signed off on Monday following a meeting of representatives from the HSE’s National Ambulance Service and senior HSE management with GPs, public representatives and community groups.
Under the old system, four ambulance crews covered Mallow, Kanturk, Millstreet and Macroom, between 8am and 8pm Monday to Thursday.
The crews were on call from home from 8pm to 8am, Monday to Thursday, with an average activation time of 21 minutes.
Under the new system, three emergency ambulances and one rapid response vehicle will be available to respond to emergencies 24/7, 365 days a year.
The HSE said it will result in improved activation times after 8pm.
The HSE said the introduction of an intermediate care vehicle (ICV) service in Mallow earlier this year has helped free up emergency ambulances.
“The HSE is confident that the modernisation of the National Ambulance Service in Cork/Kerry has the potential to provide a world class pre-hospital emergency care service to the people of the area,” NAS director, Robert Morton said.
Dr Cathal O’Donnell, the medical director of the NAS and a consultant in emergency medicine, said the elimination of the paramedics “on call” system, replaced with crews on duty 24/7, ensured “people having equal and timely access to highly skilled paramedic and advanced paramedic staff day or night”.
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