Irish ambulances arrive in North to aid overwhelmed heath service

Irish Ambulances Arrive In North To Aid Overwhelmed Heath Service
Medical staff and an ambulance, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Digital Desk Staff

The chief of the HSE has tweeted images of Irish ambulance crews lining up to support their colleagues in Northern Ireland.

Irish paramedics are heading to Belfast, Craigavon and Lisburn this weekend, as the North's health service comes under severe pressure due to the pandemic.


Paul Reid shared a photo of a vehicle from the Irish National Ambulance Service parked alongside one from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service in Belfast last night.

In another tweet, the HSE chief said he was “proud” of Irish paramedics as “they provide resourcing and support to their colleagues in Northern Ireland over the next few days.”

“Health services supporting each other, as needed,” he said.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has confirmed help is being provided to the North’s health service but said services in the Republic are not affected.

Michael Bloomfield, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said the move is “relatively unusual” and reflects the pressure they are under.


On Tuesday, queues of ambulances were witnessed at accident and emergency departments (EDs) across Northern Ireland as patients were treated in car parks due to a lack of capacity inside the hospitals.

At one point, 17 ambulances containing patients were lined up outside the ED at Antrim Area Hospital.

On Thursday, the hospital occupancy rate was 104 per cent according to the Northern Ireland Department of Health’s Covid-19 dashboard.


It comes as Northern Ireland’s political leaders have clashed amid a blame game over the region’s spiralling Covid-19 infection rates.


First Minister Arlene Foster claimed a drop in compliance with regulations was down to the attendance of senior Sinn Féin figures at the funeral of IRA veteran Bobby Storey at a time when strict limits on numbers applied.

The DUP leader, who also spoke of a failure of society as a whole, made the claims after Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill accused the DUP of acting against public health advice in opposing more robust measures earlier in the pandemic.

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The clashes came a day after the Executive unanimously agreed to impose a sweeping six-week lockdown which will come into force on St Stephen's Day.

The first week of those measures will see the toughest lockdown yet in Northern Ireland, with a form of curfew in operation from 8pm, shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

In the Republic, new restrictions will be imposed on businesses and on household visits from December 30th.

It comes as the Republic’s Chief Medical Officer has warned the country “simply cannot cope” with current levels of infection.

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