Opposition MLA Kieran McCarthy MLA stated: “I welcome this announcement; however, very valid fears still exist across Northern Ireland that the ambulance service will face cuts in the near future. That is why I am please that my motion will give the Assembly the chance to discuss this important issue next week.
“In August, the Irish News published NHS documents suggesting that more than 15,000 hours of frontline ambulance services would be cut over the next year. We have heard denials of this, but real fears still exist within the community. Rural areas need adequate cover and it would be simply unacceptable if the West had to face further reductions in healthcare services.
“I note that Mr McGimpsey has announced the purchase of rapid response vehicles. This has set alarm bells ringing because these vehicles cannot carry patients and simply cannot be used to replace ambulances. I hope that this announcement is not a cosmetic exercise to dress up the replacement of ambulances with less useful rapid response vehicles.”