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Hannah McNamara comments on high numbers of emergency calls from ‘regulars’

Friday March 9 2018

Green Party rep for Bangor East and Donaghadee, Hannah McNamara, has commented on reports that 10 addresses in Northern Ireland were responsible for a combined 1,000 emergency calls to the Ambulance Service last year.

She said such calls can tie crews up for hours on end.

Hannah said: “I started working for the ambulance service in 2012 aged 18. I first worked in the Regional Pressures Coordination Centre which was a team based in Emergency Ambulance Control.

“I have also worked in Control Training, South Eastern Divisional Headquarters and the Resource Management Centre. This range of roles across 5 years has given me a thorough understanding of the pressures on the service and the impact it has on patients and the health service as a whole.

“Whilst working in Emergency Ambulance Control, I witnessed first hand the “regulars” calling day in day out, sometimes several times a day. You see ambulances being diverted and the calls waiting stacking up.

“After leaving ambulance control, I worked in the South Eastern Divisional Headquarters, based in Bangor Ambulance Station.

“I was able to see the impact on the crews, being repeatedly sent out to the same addresses nearby, tying them up for hours on end. There were days you’d be in the station and not see a single crew all day as they were so busy they didn’t even get time to get back.

“These types of calls prevent the crews from attending life threatening emergencies and in areas like Bangor and the Ards peninsula, there are already geographical difficulties for patients further away, so it is vital that crews be made available when they’re most needed.

“Patients using the service in an inappropriate manner are tying up ambulances that could be sent to life threatening emergencies. The calls often come from people who do genuinely require help whether it is for mental health issues or alcohol and drug related issues, but an emergency ambulance is not an appropriate care pathway for these patients.

“The number of calls made to the ambulance service increases each year and yet the service has not been able to grow to fit that demand because of funding pressures.

“We need a functioning government in order to investigate new ways to help people get access to appropriate care for their needs and reduce the need for unnecessary ambulance call-outs,” Hannah said.

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