Outdated ambulance satnav systems are a concern says McGlone

THE out-dated ambulance satnav systems could result in potential days in response times and already have caused problems in Mid Ulster, according to SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone.

He said there had already been particular problems in Mid Ulster with ambulances not being able to find estates which were built only a few years ago.

The MLA raised the matter with the Health Minister who confirmed discussions were under way to agree the cost of updating the systems currently in use.

Mr McGlone said, “I am concerned that the Ambulance Service is using satellite navigation systems that are out of date. Coupled with out-dated maps and drivers who may not have detailed local knowledge in rural areas, in particular, the potential for life-threatening delays in ambulance response times is obvious.

“There have already been specific problems in the Mid Ulster area, with ambulances not being able to find estates which were constructed only a number of years ago.

“The minister has confirmed in his written answer that, currently, ambulance drivers may have to contact control staff when the satellite navigation system fails to identify the address.

“The minister also confirmed that discussions are under way on the cost of replacing the satellite navigation system used by the Ambulance Service.

“The sooner those discussions are completed and the out-dated satellite navigation systems in our ambulances replaced the better.”

The health minister responded saying: “NIAS is in discussions with the supplier to agree the cost for updating the satellite navigation system, the current map date used by NIAS is dated 2008.

“In the event of the failure of the satellite navigation in the ambulance response vehicle, back-up communications enable ambulance control staff with access to mapping data to provide instructions and directions to the personnel in the ambulance.”