Criticism has been levelled at the HSE and National Ambulance Service (NAS) by the Tipperary Ambulance Action Group (TAAG) over its failure to engage with the group, or communicate its decision to introduce a new ambulance roster in Cashel from May 19.
Last week it emerged that the NAS had written to ambulance personnel informing them that, despite ongoing negotiations, a new roster would be implemented from this date.
This will leave Cashel with just one ambulance service fully staffed to cover the town and its 30-40 mile radius. The second ambulance which currently operates an eight hour shift will be removed, despite Cashel ambulance staff submitting a revised roster to management, that would have increased this cover by four hours.
TAAG chairperson Cllr Martin Browne said they were very angry with the NAS’s decision, adding that despite several attempts to engage with the NAS, and arrange a meeting, ‘there has been no contact’ and TAAG believe they have been ‘blanking’ them.
“We are also led to believe that the ambulance personnel will reduce from 11 to nine, but because we have had no engagement with the NAS, we cannot confirm that,” he said.
“The ambulance staff haven’t even been informed of any changes,” he said.
Cllr Browne and the TAAG believe the NAS have found a ‘cynical’ way of dealing with a 1996 High Court agreement which secured two ambulances for Cashel.
“To be by the letter of the law, we are led to believe that the second ambulance will be left in Cashel, but without staff for it, this has happened in Kerry we have been told,” he said.
“That is a cynical move,” he added. “There is serious concern there, you are playing with people’s lives,” he said.
The TAAG are calling on the NAS and HSE to suspend this decision until they have had a chance to discuss it with them. Cllr Browne spoke of an incident in Cashel last week, when a 19-month-old who had fallen and hit her head, had to wait 27 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Clonmel.
“That child was lucky, her father is a paramedic so he knew what to do, but can you imagine if you were an ordinary couple having to wait 25 minutes for the ambulance.” Despite Cashel ambulance staff receiving confirmation about implementation of the new roster, a HSE statement to The Nationalist said: “Discussions are ongoing with NAS management, staff and trade unions in relation to new rostering arrangements.”