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Calls made for regulation of Irish ambulance service

The calls come after reports of a Carlow footballer waiting several hours for treatment because of delays.

Image: Photocall Ireland!

Updated, 19.56

CALLS HAVE BEEN made for the establishment of an independent regulator for the ambulance service in Ireland following reports that a Carlow footballer waited for several hours for treatment of a broken leg because of delays.

David Hall, managing director of Lifeline Ambulance Service, has said that the ordeal of a footballer whose experience was highlighted on RTÉ’s Liveline yesterday raises important questions.

“Serious public concern is being expressed about this unacceptable delay and important questions are being asked,” he said.

Shane Webb, a Carlow minor footballer, fractured his leg in two places during a Leinster match on Wednesday at Dr Cullen Park. It’s reported that an ambulance was called at 8.05pm but none arrived for almost an hour because a unit was not available in Carlow.

Terry Reilly in the Irish Examiner reports that a second ambulance was dispatched to the Kilkenny hospital so that the injured teenager could be transferred for treatment at Waterford Regional Hospital. That vehicle was diverted to Naas in Kildare because of an emergency cardiac arrest. Seven hours and three ambulances later, Webb eventually arrived at Waterford at 3am.

Hall said that the response times published by HIQA as a guideline should be given statutory protection so they can be properly enforced to avoid such unacceptable delays.

Calling on Minister for Health James Reilly to introduce full regulation of public, private, voluntary and auxiliary ambulance services, he explained that “anyone can set up and run an ambulance service within the State”.

“There is no regulation,” he added.

A spokesperson for the HSE told TheJournal.ie that an ambulance arrived at the scene at 8.47pm following a call at 8.05pm, and that Webb received medical treatment from a GP while he waited. The footballer was then transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, arriving there at 10pm.

It was decided that he required further treatment at Waterford Regional Hospital and an ambulance was requested at 10.41pm. However due to the vehicles being engaged in emergencies, he did not leave St. Luke’s until 1.43am.

The HSE has said that two emergency ambulance vehicles and crew are on duty in Carlow seven days a week from 9am to 12am and at least one overnight., while Kilkenny is covered by two crews on a 24 hour basis.

It also said that all emergency ambulances from adjacent locations, such as Waterford, Clonmel and Portlaoise for instance, are now available to assist with emergency calls in Co. Carlow and Kilkenny.

Last year, a man who collapsed some 100 metres away from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda was left waiting on the street for paramedics for 25 minutes. Peter Sherlock was eventually to the hospital in the back of a van. He passed away a short time later.

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