Health Minister gives commitment to addressing ambulance cover issues.
Newry and Armagh MLA Liz Kimmins has reacted favourably to Minister of Health response to her concerns about Ambulance cover in the area.
The Sinn Féin MLA said: “Following a meeting with the Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Ambulance Service on 8th July, I wrote to Health Minister Robin Swann to highlight the urgent need for his department to deal with the pressures the ambulance service are currently facing.
“In my letter I asked the Minister to outline what his Department is doing to address the significant issue of understaffing in the Ambulance Service, which we have seen the impacts of locally in recent times.
“In response, the Minister has advised that NIAS is continuing to recruit and train additional staff, but in the longer-term, significant additional resources will be required to ensure that NIAS has sufficient personnel to meet current and future demand.
“Sinn Féin elected representatives were advised by the Chief Executive of NIAS last month that a new Clinical Response Model has been developed following an extensive demand and capacity review in relation to NIAS services and the Minister has subsequently confirmed his Department is currently considering the business case for it.
“The Minister has also advised that in order to ensure the supply of registered paramedics, the Department of Health recently commissioned a pre-registration Paramedic BSc degree course from Ulster University, commencing from September 2021 for an initial four years.
“Of the 50 places available per year, 10 places per year will be for an employer-led route through NIAS.”
Liz Kinnins added: “The Health Department will pay tuition fees for course participants. Until then, trainee paramedics within NIAS will continue to follow the current pre-registration Foundation Degree Programme.
“The Department of Health will also be taking forward a Paramedic Workforce Review to consider the longer-term requirements for paramedics within Health and Social Care, recognising their changing and growing contribution to healthcare delivery.”
Concluding, the Newry & Armagh MLA said: “The Minister’s response is generally very positive, and it is evident that he recognises the need to address these longstanding issues right across the North.
“However time is of the essence and Sinn Féin will continue to work hard to see the delivery of these key objectives as soon as possible.
“We want to see a fully resourced ambulance service to meet the needs of staff and the population of this constituency.”
The pressures on the NI Ambulance Service are felt across both the South Eastern HSC Trust and Southern HSC Trust areas.