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"Impossible response times" being demanded from paramedics

NASRA made the comments after figures showed that ambulances spent 8,000 hours parked outside hospitals in April.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

MEMBERS OF THE National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) said that figures published today on ambulance delays at hospital emergency departments “confirm that the National Ambulance Service (NAS) [is] demanding impossible response times from paramedics”.

Cause for concern’

Michael Dixon, NASRA National Chairman, said the figures were”a cause of real concern”.

Dixon said the figures, which were given to Independent TD Denis Naughten, are “graphic evidence” of the need for a significant increase in investment in the ambulance service.

He said this investment is needed “if it is to have any hope of meeting the response times now being demanded of it by the NAS”.

The figures showed that one in ten ambulances was delayed for over an hour outside Emergency Departments.

Dixon said the information in the figures is “indisputable evidence that the ambulance service is stretched to capacity and cannot meet the demands being placed on it within a reconfigured health service which relies on paramedics and the ambulance service like never before”.

He added that the closure of some EDs has put added pressure on the ambulance service, but said there has been “insufficient additional investment in the service” to allow it to meet the new demands.

The figures published today show that the problems with meeting turnaround and response times are being experienced throughout the country and confirm that the service cannot meet response time targets while resources and personnel continue to be cut.

Dixon said the issues highlighted today and the problems relating to response time targets were brought to the attention of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in February.

“[I]t is time for the NAS to accept that these targets are unrealistic unless cutbacks are reversed and significant investment is made,” said Dixon.

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‘National disgrace’

Meanwhile, Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the figures from the NAS as “nothing short of a national disgrace”.

“Failure to address this problem is making the difference between life and death scenarios for some families all too real,” said McGrath.

Read: Ambulances spent 8,000 hours parked outside hospitals in April>

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