The TUV’s East Londonderry candidate Jordan Armstrong says his party is calling for a fully funded physician-led HEMS.
The Department of Health’s consultation on the establishment of a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for Northern Ireland closed last week.
Mr Armstrong said: “ The TUV has led the way in the campaign for a Northern Ireland HEMS. The late Dr John Hinds and Jim Allister met with the Health Minister to press the case for such a service just a few months before the doctor was tragically killed. His untimely death robed Northern Ireland not only of a skilled medical professional but someone who was deeply passionate about improving health care provision in our Province.
“In September 2015 the TUV leader handed over a petition containing over 80,000 signatures calling for the establishment of the service and on 12th October 2015 TUV hosted an event at Stormont which was introduced by the late Dr Hinds’ partner, Dr Janet Acheson, and which was addressed by Dr Brian Burns from Sydney, Australia, a world expert in HEMS provision.
“This consultation was a welcome step in the right direction. However, TUV believes that Northern Ireland should have the best service possible. For that reason, TUV is calling for a fully funded physician-led HEMS.
“The cost of operating such a service is estimated by the Department at just £1.8 million. £1.8m is not a significant sum when people’s lives are at stake, particularly given the sums which are found to squander on other less worthy causes.
“For example, the cost of spin doctors in Stormont departments is £5m per year, and it is less than the £2m per year spent on Special Advisers!
“The money is there if Stormont would stop wasting it in areas which bring politics into contempt.
“We strongly believe that the cost difference of just £61,377 between a paramedic-led and physician-led service model is insignificant given the advantages of having a physician-led service.
Causeway Coast and Glens councillor has supported the call from Mr Armstrong, she said: “Dr John Hinds was well regarded within the motorcycle racing community and rightly so given that he saved so many lives.
“The campaign for a HEMS for Northern Ireland has therefore received strong backing from racers throughout.
“With one of the premier races in the world taking place in my local area, the North West 200, I believe that the campaign for an air ambulance will receive universal local support.”