McKay concern over ambulance travel times

TRAVEL times for ambulances would increase by almost fifteen minutes should the Accident and Emergency unit close at the Causeway Hospital, a local MLA has said.

Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay has obtained details relating to the average ambulance travel times from North Antrim villages and towns to both the Causeway and Antrim Area hospitals. The figures were given by the Health Minister, Edwin Poots.

Mr McKay says he sought the figures for communities that would primarily go to Causeway Accident and Emergency unit.

He said: “The figures show that there would obviously be an increase in travel times to Antrim Accident and Emergnecy. For example an ambulance from Ballycastle would take 40 minutes, 13 minutes longer than the time taken to travel to Causeway A&E at present.

“For other areas to travel to Antrim hospital: Ballymoney would take an extra 20 minutes (34minutes total), Rasharkin 10 minutes (36 minutes total) and Dunloy 5 minutes (26 minutes total).

“Figures were not available for Loughgiel, Armoy, Carey and Ballintoy.

“These ambulance travel times are significantly higher in Ballymoney and Ballycastle and I think in itself demonstrates the need for an A&E to remain to cover the huge rural area between Antrim and Altnagelvin; in particular those who reside in Ballymoney and Moyle districts as Ballymena district by and large would gravitate towards Antrim A&E which is closer.

“Aside from travel times though it is clear that there is no capacity in Antrim Area Hospital for the extra patients that would result in any closure at Causeway and it is the service provided at Coleraine that people want to see protected.”