The National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has said that the findings of a new review of HIQA ambulance response times confirms NASRA’s own findings last year that the HIQA targets are impossible to meet and are exposing the public to danger.
NASRA National Chairman, Michael Dixon said: ‘NASRA’s statement last year that the worrying rise in the number of incidents of serious delays in ambulance response times was evidence that the service cannot meet the impossible HIQA response time targets, especially while resources and personnel were being cut, is sadly fully vindicated by the findings of the independent review ordered by the HSE, as reported in the media today.’
The review, which was carried out by UK consultancy Lightfoot Solutions on behalf of the HSE found that the NAS ‘cannot possibly’ achieve prescribed targets for response times, even if it were fully resourced and operating to international best practice standards, are particularly disturbing given the repeated defence by NAS management of their response times and their statements that the targets and resources in the NAS are in line with UK ambulance services.
Michael Dixon said ‘The independent review findings make it clear that because of the rural nature of the area that the NAS serves that we cannot meet the same response times as the UK and elsewhere. The review also finds that the NAS needs an additional 750 staff and 250 ambulances to improve its performance in responding to emergencies in specified times.’
‘Just two weeks ago I told NASRA’s Annual Delegate Conference in Cavan that growing demands on the ambulance services and personnel cannot be met with the current staffing levels and that we are 400-500 staff short of what is needed to provide a fully staffed and sustainable ambulance service that can meet all of the demands on it.’
‘Today’s report confirms the understaffing and under resourcing of the ambulance service, however the HSE and National Ambulance Service deny this and instead continue the chaotic management of the services by relying on extended and unsustainable 12 -15 hour rosters, cancellation of leave, and overtime and non-rostered staff to keep ambulances on the road.’
NASRA is calling for the immediate publication of the full UK consultancy NAS Review and the NAS Capacity Review to allow a full debate on the state of the ambulance service and for both to be urgently considered by the Oireachtas Health Committee.