A woman in her 30s has died in Newry while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance from Belfast.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it regretted that its level of service fell below what had been “planned and expected” in the early hours of Sunday.
It is understood the emergency services received a call around 3.30am on Sunday to say a woman had collapsed in Newry, Co Down.
Instead of the planned 10 forces, only three forces were available in the southern division at the beginning of the night shift.
This was reduced to two crews when an ambulance worker fell ill.
At the time of the 911 call, both crews were at Craigavon Hospital delivering patients.
Instead, a crew was sent from Belfast, 38 miles away.
The woman died before the ambulance arrived.
A NIAS spokesman said: “The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service would like to offer their sincere apologies and offer our condolences to the family and friends of the patient in Newry, who died in the early hours of April 10 whilst awaiting the arrival of an ambulance from those from Belfast was shipped.
“NIAS regrets that on the evening of Saturday, April 9, ambulance coverage fell below planned and expected levels, with the Southern Division particularly affected.
“The planned resource level in the Southern Division on Saturday night is 10.
“On Saturday evening there were only three teams available at the beginning of the shift and this was weakened by one more due to the onset of illness.
“The two remaining crews were unavailable to respond as they waited to transfer patients at Craigavon ED.
NIAS would also like to apologize to all patients and their caregivers for any delays experienced due to reduced coverageNIAS Spokesman
“As NIAS manages the service on a regional basis, with the nearest available ambulance responding to the next most clinically urgent call, crews from other departments will have responded to calls in the southern department.”
The spokesperson added: “NIAS had three A&E support teams and an independent ambulance team available to complement the emergency response teams.
“A&E support and independent crews are dispatched to lower priority 911 calls to protect 911 resources for the most critical and urgent pending calls.
“NIAS would also like to apologize to all patients and their caregivers for any delays experienced due to reduced coverage.”