A young Newry woman died while waiting for paramedics to arrive from Belfast due to a shortage of crews in the Southern Area.
The woman, aged in her 30s, collapsed on her walk home from a night out with friends in the early hours of Sunday morning, the BBC has reported.
However, due to the lack of cover in the Newry or surrounding area, an ambulance crew from Belfast – 40 miles away – was despatched. It took 45 minutes for them to arrive.
According to the report, there had been 10 crews pencilled in to cover the Southern Area on Saturday night, however, only three crews were available at the start of the shift. The onset of illness on Saturday reduced this to two.
By 3am, those two crews were sat waiting at Craigavon Area Hospital to offload patients.
A spokesperson for the NIAS added: “As NIAS manages the service on a regional basis with the closest available ambulance responding to the next most clinically urgent call, crews from other divisions will have responded to calls in the southern division.
“NIAS also had three A&E support crews and one independent ambulance crew available to complement the emergency crews.
“NIAS would like to apologise to patients and their careers for any delays experienced as a result of reduced cover on Saturday night.”