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HSE report: ambulances regularly miss targets for response times

Statistics released by James Reilly show that almost half of life-threatening cardiac emergency calls are late in being dispatched.

Almost half of ambulances called to life-threatening cardiac emergencies last year missed the eight-minute target for dispatch.
Almost half of ambulances called to life-threatening cardiac emergencies last year missed the eight-minute target for dispatch.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/ Photocall Ireland

ALMOST HALF of ambulance call-outs to patients suffering from life-threatening cardiac emergencies last year missed their target times for arrival, a HSE study has confirmed.

Figures published by health minister James Reilly show that only 53.1 per cent of ‘ECHO’-class calls – dealing with patients suffering from a life-threatening emergency – were dispatched within 8 minutes of their arrival.

‘DELTA’-class calls, dealing with patients suffering from other non-cardiac life-threatening emergencies, met that target on just 28.45 per cent of occasions.

The details were compiled for a HSE study in January, which calls for 75 per cent of ambulances to have responded to a call within 8 minutes of being summoned.

The records for performance in 2011, however, were not released at the time, and have only now been published following a parliamentary question from former Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten.

A separate index, measuring those calls based on the time taken to reach the patient, showed that 69.3 per cent of ECHO calls and 66.8 per cent of DELTA calls had arrived within the target of 18 minutes and 59 seconds.

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The January report sets a target that 80 per cent of ambulances responded both ECHO and DELTA calls should arrive on site within the 18’59″ period.

Reilly said a major difficulty in meeting those targets was the use of ambulances in transferring patients between hospitals, which can tie up a regional ambulance fleet and render vehicles unavailable for emergency callouts.

The minister said he was considering the use of other none-emergency vehicles with higher capacities to bring patients from one area to another, and to allow the HSE’s National Ambulance Service to concentrate on emergency incidents.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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