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Targets for ambulance response times 'impossible' to meet

Cutbacks in the number of personnel and vehicles have caused ‘serious delays’, according to the The National Ambulance Service Representative Association

File photo of ambulances.
File photo of ambulances.
Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland

AMBULANCE CREWS ARE struggling to meet ‘impossible’ response time targets set by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) as a result of due to recent cutbacks, prompting calls for a review of the service.

Concerns have been raised by the National Ambulance Service Representative Authority (NASRA), who said that a lack of personnel and vehicles, as well as a reduction in rostered hours, is causing ‘serious delays’.

“Two recent incidents in Donegal and Louth confirm that the HIQA Key Performance Indicators are proving impossible to meet given the latest cutbacks in the ambulance service in the past year”, the organisation’s chairman Michael Dixon said.

Concerns were also raised yesterday by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who highlighted one of these incidents.

“The recent death of Wayne McQuillan and the fact that the Gardaí were forced to drive him to Our Lady of Lourdes because of the length of time it was taking for an ambulance to reach him, has again focussed attention on this issue,” he said, calling for a ‘thorough investigation into the ambulance service across the state’.

Dixon added that the National Ambulance Service aims to have similar response times to those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and that the current recommendation of 7 minutes and 58 seconds for calls classed as life-threatening is not being reached in some areas.

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In Scotland, where the population currently stands at 5.3 million compared to Ireland’s 4.6 million, there are close to four times more ambulance personnel, and more than twice the number of vehicles.

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Nicky Ryan

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