No Cuts To NI Ambulance Service
Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has stated the efficiency drive within health and social care will lead to more emergency cover, not less.
Speaking during an Assembly debate, the Minister also emphasised that no Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) service jobs would be lost as a result of efficiencies.
The Minister said: “Let me be clear ambulance service provision is absolutely not being reduced. Unfortunately, people have been too quick to jump to conclusions rather than listen to the facts. This scaremongering is simply not helpful and only serves to undermine public confidence in the emergency services.
“In fact, paramedic response capacity – by which I mean the total Accident and Emergency (A&E) and Rapid Response Vehicles response – will be increased by 61,000 hours to over 600,000 hours of cover. In reality, there will be seven additional vehicles on the ground providing emergency care to those who need it most.
The Minister added: “I am not cutting ambulance service funding, but rather I am committed to investing substantially in it. To this end, I announced on 1 October a major capital investment in the service totalling almost ?100million over the next 10 years.
“This includes ?17million over the current Comprehensive Spending Review period for 60 new A&E ambulances, 60 new patient care vehicles and 26 rapid response vehicles. This will allow NIAS to modernise its service, respond more quickly to emergency calls, and help deliver life saving emergency care to those who need it.
“I am also investing an additional ?12million revenue funding in the ambulance service which will increase its annual budget to ?57million by 2010/11, an increase of 24% on last year.”
He continued: “Currently the ambulance service employs 1,076 people, and there will be no reduction in this figure as a result of the NIAS efficiency proposals.
“We are all indebted to the staff of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, who are skilled health professionals delivering vital, life-saving care in the front line of emergency services.
“They deserve to have modern equipment, vehicles and technology to allow them to deliver that high quality care to the public.”