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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019
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Varadkar refuses to rule out privatisation of air ambulance

Since 2012, the Irish Air Corps have helped sick people travel to hospital from all over the country.

THE DEFENCE FORCES will now carry out medivacs on a permanent basis, however Health Minister Leo Varadkar refuses to rule out the possible privatisation of the service.

Making the announcement yesterday, the ministers for Defence and Health, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar, said the service has saved hundreds of lives since it was rolled out in 2012.

Varadkar said:

What we need to do is constantly look at the best way to provide the service, it is currently provided by the Air Corps – that’s now being made permanent.
We don’t rule out in the future the possibility that we may need a second helicopter for example or that potentially the service could be provided directly by the HSE or a private provider.

However, Varadkar said for the foreseeable future it will be provided by the Defence Forces.

Coveney said the Defence Forces definitely wanted to opt in to have on-going review, stating:

This might need to be a civilian service rather than a military one.

He added that it is only prudent to have a review of the scheme every two or three years.

The National Ambulance Service and the Irish Air Corps have operated the service out of Athlone since 2012, and carried out over 1,055 missions to date, assisting very ill patients mainly in remote parts of the west get to hospital.

The annual cost of the service in €2.6 million.

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