The average time it took Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) to reach 27 life threatening calls in Pomeroy last year was 18 mins 5 secs.
That is over 10 mins longer than the eight minute target that NIAS are required to meet in 65% of category A call-outs within each Trust area and 72.5% of calls in the province.
NIAS have also revealed that the average travel time from Pomeroy to the closest A&E at Craigavon Area Hospital was a further 44 mins 5 secs across all 27 calls.
When both numbers are combined this would suggest that patients whose lives are on the line do not reach hospital, on average, for 62 mins 10 secs — just outside the ‘golden hour’ that the Department of Health say is critical to the outcome of any trauma.
The ‘Golden Hour’ in emergency medicine is the time in which a person should be getting definitive treatment at an A&E department. If a person is not seen and their injuries diagnosed within one hour it is said their chances of survival fall dramatically.
However, NIAS spokesman John McPoland has said that the averages he has provided do not paint the whole picture, and that in cases where ‘blue light conditions’ were used, the time it took to get trauma patients to A&E would have been much less.
“Rural areas within Northern Ireland present a challenge in terms of meeting these targets,” he told the MAIL, “and NIAS is keen to work with communities to explore ways in which local service provision can be enhanced through, for example, Community First Responder Schemes.
NIAS said they received one complaint from a service user in Pomeroy last year.
The Department of Health, who oversee the work of NIAS, were unable to provide a comment at the time of this story going to print.
Whilst researching where the closest A&E services to Pomeroy are, the MAIL also discovered that the distances provided on the HSC website’s Service Finder are wrong, sometimes by as much as 14 miles, when compared with Google roadmaps.
When our reporter asked the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Health about this, they said: “The distances provided on HSC Service Finder are ‘as the crow flies’ using latitude and longitude co-ordinates, not road routes – it is a general indicator of the nearest available health services in an area. The Service Finder website is not a route planner as there are a number of free online services available for this.”