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New paramedics to relieve pressure in West Tyrone

Four new paramedics and an emergency medical technician are set to begin work in Omagh soon following a recruitment exercise by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).

Details of the appointment were released by the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, to West Tyrone SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan.

In the correspondence sent this week, Mr Pengelly said the NIAS was also about to begin training 48 paramedics across the North and hoped to have trained an additional 96 emergency medical technicians and 96 ambulance care attendants by the end of this financial year.

Mr McCrossan welcomed the recruitment move saying he hoped that it would go some way towards relieving some of the pressures on existing paramedics and ensuring that people are responded to in a timely manner.

He also called for sickness absences to be addressed after figures showed that a combined percentage of 8.79 hours were lost in Castlederg, Omagh and Strabane Ambulance stations during August.

This amount to 11.03 per-cent in Omagh, 5.02 per-cent in Castlederg and 5.11 per-cent in Strabane. “Sickness absence from Omagh paramedics is reflective of the environment they are working in. Increased pressure, increasing workload and longer hours are all taking its toll on staff,” said Mr McCrossan.

“It’s about time this issue was taken seriously and I welcome news of new recruitments and plans to recruit more ambulance staff throughout the North. Hopefully this move will result in less patients waiting too long to receive a call out.”

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