Thursday, 3 October 2019

Questions (132)

Denis Naughten


132. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to secure the air ambulance service at Custume Barracks, Athlone; the number of missions flown in each year of operation and to date in 2019; if assurance will be provided that its role will be expanded on foot of the operation of the second air ambulance in Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40270/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS), which is operated from Custume Barracks in Athlone, has been successfully operating for many years in partnership with the Irish Air Corps.  Since its inception in 2012, the EAS Service has completed more than 2,600 missions and provides rapid access to appropriate treatment for very high acuity patients, specifically where land ambulance transit times would not be clinically appropriate.

 The Programme for a Partnership Government committed to examining the feasibility to expand aeromedical services, and the launch of the Munster Hems service fulfils that commitment.  The service complements our existing EAS in Athlone.  The new service will improve access to health services for patients in Munster.  Given the distance from Athlone, parts of Munster are not easily accessed by the EAS and the time advantage posed by air travel is not always realisable.  It should also be noted that having a second aeromedical base takes some pressure off the EAS in Athlone and therefore the benefit of having a service in Munster will accrue to other parts of the country.

In relation to the number of missions flown in each year of operation and to date in 2019; as this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.