The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) says it has been experiencing difficulties providing full levels of cover throughout all areas over the summer period and not just in Magherafelt and Cookstown.
Responding to comments by SDLP Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone that drops in paramedic shifts were putting lives at risk, a spokesperson for NIAS said: “At the end of July, Brian McNeill, NIAS Director of Operations, explained the reasons behind the dropped cover and warned that the month of August would also prove challenging in terms of cover but that the Trust had taken a number of steps to improve the situation including recruitment, reallocation of relief duties and postponement of training.
“The Trust has seen these measures begin to have a positive effect but we remain committed to improving the situation even further.
“Through the challenging times of the past months, the Trust also made use of the voluntary ambulance services to ensure that our own resources could be directed towards the most seriously ill or injured.
“Staff at all levels within the Service worked exceptionally hard to ensure that impact on patients was kept to a minimum and the Trust recognises that frontline staff, in particular, carried an extra burden and for that they are to be commended.
“The Trust is happy to discuss, with any public representative, ambulance issues which they believe to be of concern.”