With the removal of life saving services at the Mid Ulster r hospital in May 2010 the ambulance services plays a vital role within the community and since the removal of the A&E these response times have failed to improve. The recent Health Review, Transforming Your Care failed to address the issue of ambulance response times and when this review is used to further shut down lifesaving services in Causeway more Mid Ulster residents will residents will become more dependent on the ambulance service.
With lifesaving services being withdrawn from central rural Northern Ireland from Omagh, Dungannon and Magherafelt it is no surprise that the ambulance service is under pressure, it is not feasible that with the longer traveling times and huge area for the ambulance service to fill the gap left by accident and emergency departments.
Other pressures include ambulances that can find themselves trapped at A&E departments for over 2 hours; while this ambulance is trapped because A&E’s are full to capacity it is unable to responds to calls. Also ambulances are fitted with tracking devices that will ensure that the nearest ambulance to a call will respond, this is essence is a good idea but the downside to this is that a Mid Ulster based ambulance could find itself delivering a patient to Antrim Area and not returning to base for several hours as it tracker will keep it in the Antrim and Greater Belfast area.
Hospital handovers show issues within the larger overcrowded acute hospitals, while it is not an official target, it is recommended that it should take no longer than 15 minutes for the ambulance service to hand over patients at an A&E, the longest handover was recorded at Craigavon A&E where it took 2 hours and 33 minutes to hand the patient over. The reason cites was because their A&E was full to capacity, and neither had a trolley or cubical to transfer the patient to. While Craigavon manages to stay out of the public area in terms of its performance it is also a facility that faces extreme pressure each month within its A&E department.