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Progress on Connemara ambulance base 'is not fast enough'

Planning permission for a new ambulance base at Recess in Connemara will be lodged with Galway County Council this month.

The HSE has confirmed that it hopes to progress tender documents for the project in parallel with the planning application being lodged with Galway County Council.

But the slow progress has left Connemara Ambulance Crisis Group, the local organisation lobbying for the base for years, ‘very disappointed’.

“To say we are astounded that things are moving so slowly would be an understatement,” they said in a statement.

Initially we were advised that the base would be opened in the spring of 2022.

At a meeting with the National Ambulance Service, the HSE and local politicians in July 2022, it was pointed out by us that if the tender process was to start immediately, realistically, it would be 2024 before there would be any chance of the base being operational, we are now one year further on, and still no progress,” they added.

The HSE indicated last week that access issues had delayed the process.

Paul de Freine HSE National Director of Capital and Estates, confirmed the progress in a written response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív.

“Arrangements are being made to submit an application for planning permission for the proposed ambulance base at Recess in July 2023. This follows agreement of access arrangements to the new base.

“Detailed design of the new base and preparation of tender documents will be progressed insofar as possible, in parallel with planning process,” Mr de Freine said.

Deputy Ó Cuív welcomed the progress on the provision of a new third ambulance base in Connemara at Recess.

“In the last two years a welcome third ambulance service was provided in Connemara with a seven-day service, eleven staff and two vehicles. This has provided a much better emergency service in Connemara.

“However, although the Health Centre in Recess was identified as a possible base for the service it has taken until now to progress to planning on necessary modifications to the centre to be suitable for its new role.

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“I hope now that planning will be granted without delay and that this vital project will be brought to completion so that this vital service will have a permanent centrally located base,” Deputy Ó Cuív said.

A commitment to provide a new ambulance base at Recess was given by the HSE in November of 2021 came after years of campaigning by local residents in the Connemara Ambulance Crisis Group and lobbying by local politicians.

But the Connemara Ambulance Crisis Group said it had lost all confidence in this process and feel it calls into question the credibility of HSE/Capital Estates in providing the ambulance base, as promised.

“We are seeking a meeting with HSE Capital estates to explain what has caused the delay in this process,” they added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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