Ambulance service apologises for taking 19 minutes to reach dying gun-attack victim Michael McGibbon
THE ambulance service has said it "sincerely regrets" being unable to provide "a more speedy response" after the shooting of Michael McGibbon.
Despite an ambulance station being just two minutes away, help did not arrive for the father-of-four until 19 minutes after the 999 call was received last Friday.
Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne, a nurse, tended to the 33-year-old as he bled profusely from an artery after being shot three times in the leg by dissident republicans in an alleyway in north Belfast.
The Ambulance Service is expected to respond to 72.5% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes.
A spokesman said the delay was because all ambulances were already dealing with emergencies.
"The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a call at 22:01 on Friday April 15 relating to a shooting incident in Ardoyne," he said.
"All ambulance resources in the greater Belfast area were already engaged in other emergency activity at the time of the call.
"Realising the serious nature of the call, the control officer contacted the emergency department of the RVH in an effort to release a crew as a matter of urgency to respond.
"The first crew became available to respond at 22:12 and were allocated the call immediately. The crew arrived at the scene at 22:20.
"The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service sincerely regrets that it was unable to provide a more speedy response to this call."
Response times plunged to their worst level for at least five years during 2014/15, when the eight-minute target was met only 58 per cent of the time for life-threatening cases.
While the ambulance service has cited increased demand and other pressures, health minister Simon Hamilton described the statistics earlier this year as "unacceptable".
The SDLP's Fearghal McKinney said the delay in the McGibbon case was "reflective of the wider pressures facing the health system".
"Those responsible for the death of Michael McGibbon were the paramilitary thugs who shot and murdered him. They have no place in society," he said.
"The ambulance service has not received sufficient funding to deal with huge demand which has led to intolerable pressures, stress, and sick absence among its staff.
"These are all issues that need to be fundamentally addressed by the health minister as a matter of urgency in order to reassure the public."
Mr McGibbon was buried yesterday after a funeral attended by hundreds of mourners at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne.