Campaigners have vowed to pile the pressure on local TDs and Senators to save the ambulance service in South Tipperary.
The potential loss of the second ambulance in Cashel, with threats to another ambulance in Tipperary town, would be a “matter of life and death” for all the people of Tipperary, from Clonmel right up to beyond Thurles, heard a new campaign group set up on Thursday evening in Halla na Féile.
Under new roster plans emanating from Co. Wexford, the service in Cashel may be downgraded, with ambulance callouts from Cashel now logged as Clonmel calls, claimed Cashel Town Cllr Martin Browne. “It’s easy for them then to say the ambulance in Cashel is not being used. They’re twisting the figures to suit themselves.” The Tipperary Ambulance Action Group (TAAG) is urging the public to lobby their politicians. The loss of two ambulances would create a “snowball effect,” said Cllr Browne. “If they got their way in one town, they’d try it in other towns.”
The national strategy is to have a 12-minute response time. Cashel’s ambulances serve a huge area, from Hollyford in the west to Burncourt in the south and over to the Kilkenny border. A stroke victim in Hollyford waiting for an ambulance from Clonmel would be at increased risk of dying. “Speed is of the absolute essence for stroke victims,” said Dr. Séan McCarthy.
Deputy Tom Hayes issued a statement on Monday saying he has held high level talks with the Health Minister James Reilly on the issue. (See pg 21). TAAG Asst. Sec. Dr Niall Gregory has written to all of Tipperary’s Oireachtas members, and two senior HSE officials. “
We are a group of 343 citizens who are deeply concerned with these alleged proposals. Our organisation is growing strongly as news of the proposed reduction spreads.” Thursday’s meeting heard that the HSE is obliged to maintain the ambulance service in Cashel along terms agreed in 1996, when the then South Eastern Health Board struck a legal agreement with the Cashel Hospital Action Committee.
Deputy Seamus Healy has condemned any attempt to transfer an ambulance. Deputy Healy - a member of the Oireachtas Health Committee - was due to raise the issue at Tuesday’s meeting of the committee which will be reviewing the ambulance service and will hear from the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, and SIPTU.