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‘Average ambulance response times mean nothing’ – Murphy criticises HSE on West Clare cover

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A West Clare councillor has slammed the NAS and HSE for a failure to provide adequate detail on the response times of ambulances to call outs in the county.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the HSE Regional Health Forum West, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) sought a detailed breakdown of the individual response times for each ambulance call out within the West Clare Municipal District for 2020.

Specifically, he enquired for data on the time of initial alerts on the National Ambulance Code, the time of arrival on the scene and the base station from which the ambulance was deployed.

Acting Chief Ambulance Officer with the National Ambulance Service West, Bill Forbes in a written response stated, “the average response times for ambulance ECHO & DELTA calls for Co. Clare from 1/1/2019 – 18/11/2020 are 15 minutes 56 seconds. To provide any further breakdown could potentially breach GDPR”.

“There are two things in my life to stop things being done and that is GDPR and health and safety. I’m not happy with this response. I didn’t ask for dates, I don’t need to know a particular date something happened,” a frustrated Murphy told the meeting.

He continued, “I received an average response time for Co Clare, anyone who deals with statistics will tell you the average response time is worth nothing, it means nothing to someone living in Lahinch or Kilkee, it’s fine if you are two minutes away in Ennis”.

According to the Kilkee representatives, coastal communities need to be aware if an ambulance in Kilrush is sent to Limerick, what cover is available. “I don’t want to know the details of why the ambulance was called, I want to know the time of the alert and the response time, there isn’t an ounce of potential of breach of GDPR. I would appreciate if the questions I asked were answered”.

CEO of Saolta, Tony Canavan conceded that Cllr Murphy’s question “did not ask for specifics that may create difficulty”. He admitted, “I don’t know why Bill mentioned GDPR”. He was confident a greater level of detail could be found as requested.

Those answers must be found, Murphy insisted. “The reason I’m asking is because they are a matter of public record. I have no doubt there are plenty of other places in the west of Ireland in the same situation. If we don’t put them out in the public domain, nothing will be done”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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