Republican News · Thursday 10 Novemeber 2000

[An Phoblacht]

De Brún petitioned for Antrim ambulance service

The newly formed Glens of Antrim Concerned Residents Group, which is pressing for an emergency ambulance service for the Antrim coast area, met the Health Minister Bairbre De Brún at Stormont on Monday 6 November.

The group handed over a petition signed by around 2,000 people to Sinn Féin representative John Kelly, a member of the Assembly's heath committee.

The group's spokesperson, Catherine O'Hagan, described the meeting with De Brún as ``positive and productive'', said the meeting ``went some way to allaying the concerns of communities from Glenarm to Cushendall, who are virtually cut off from emergency cover''.

The nearest hospital in Antrim is more than 30 miles away and the response time for an ambulance from Larne is 50 minutes on average. ``In bad weather it could be longer as the roads along the coast can be impassable in winter,'' said O'Hagan.

One of those in the delegation to meet the Health Minister was Maureen McCorry, whose husband Pat died as he waited up to six hours for an ambulance to arrive.

Pat McCorry, who was suffering from cancer began to spit blood, at about 1am on 14 April this year. When Maureen phoned the City Hospital in Belfast for an ambulance she was told that one could not be authorised. When she eventually spoke to a locum who did authorise the ambulance Maureen was warned that it could take hours for it to arrive.

When an ambulance crew, which got lost on the way to Maureen's, finally arrived at 7.15am it was too late. Pat had died 20 minutes earlier.

Said Anna Leitch, one of the organisers of the campaign, ``to people in the Glens the ambulance service is a lottery''.

Meanwhile, in a statement supporting the group, Glens of Antrim Sinn Féin councillor James McCarry said: ``We as a party are committed to empowering communities to take part in decisions that impact directly on their lives. We are also committed to ending the post code lottery of service delivery across a range of departments.''

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