Health minister urged to take action on medical care in rural areas


The Minister of Health has been urged to take urgent action to improve medical care in rural communities, after the death of Maggie Black, a schoolgirl from Glenarm.

Five-year-old Maggie died last month after falling ill with stomach pains at home. As her breathing became difficult, the family contacted 999, but an ambulance did not arrive until 70 minutes later. Maggie’s parents contacted a relative, a local firefighter, for help. A crew arrived within 10 minutes, but unfortunately their condition deteriorated.

Calling for action, Alliance East Antrim MP Stewart Dickson said: “The current and unimaginable pressure on our health services is a terrifying reality for many people living in rural areas. For others, it is the difference between life and death.

“I have asked my colleagues to support ‘Maggie’s Call’ to ensure the fire and rescue service is sent to rural areas in life threatening situations. Although the outcome for Maggie was entirely heartbreaking for her family they know the fire crew as first responders with lifesaving equipment she received the best support available.

“Without systematic and planned change, already strained emergency services will be forced into crisis. There are two choices: the system can either resist change and slowly deteriorate, or embrace change and create a sustainable service, equipped to provide people with appropriate care, especially in rural areas.

“Work needs to be done to improve medical care in our rural communities. The Department must now build on the promising co-responder pilot program, under which the fire department was dispatched to emergency calls suspected heart failure in the local fire station catchment area, in addition to standard emergency ambulance response.

“More than that, upskilling is fundamental to creating a global emergency service that can respond, not just to the challenges of today, but to the challenges we will face in the future.

“Investing in the ongoing training of all staff will transform the learning experience of our vital services, ensuring that we continue to have the best people trained to the highest standards to be available when our communities need them most. need.

“I will continue to press the Minister of Health to act, and I will present a public petition to the Assembly on behalf of the family in February.”


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