Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Public Accounts Committee

Financial Statement 2020 and Related Matters: HSE (Resumed)

10:50 am

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I will go back to an issue I raised with Mr. Reid last week regarding the ambulance services. I have spoken to people at different levels of the ambulance services. The headline in my local newspaper two weeks ago said "No Ambulance Help 'A Disgrace'". Sometimes headlines are not accurate, but on this occasion, it is. I could rattle off cases where ambulances have been deployed and diverted but time does not allow it.

One case involved a person in part of north Kildare about 50 km or 55 km from Portlaoise hospital. A horse fell on top of this person and he was seriously injured with internal bleeding and all of that. The ambulance came to within 2 km of him but was then stood down and turned back. It was sent over to Athy to deal with a what they were told was an emergency. The crew diverted but it was not an emergency. Whoever made the call in used words that gave the impression to the person dispatching in the control centre that it was. Meanwhile, another ambulance chased the original call for the emergency and took longer.

There was also an example of an elderly person who waited more than two hours for an ambulance in Clonaslee. There are other examples of people waiting for ambulances that did not show up. The newspaper headline referred to a case where an ambulance did not show up and the people on-site were told not to move the patient. It was a no-show. There are no-shows and late shows.

Insofar as I can ascertain, dynamic deployment can only work if there are huge resources and increased numbers of ambulances and staff. I understand the problem at the moment is the service has between 20% and 25% fewer resources in terms of personnel and ambulances than it needs. In Mr. Reid's estimation, is the capacity of the service 20% to 25% below what is required?


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