The National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) is calling for an end to cuts to the Ambulance Service and says Paramedics have ‘no more to give’ as cutbacks are ‘stripping crews of vital staff and vehicles’, it says.
A report in today’s Irish Mirror reveals the views of the paramedic unions and describes the National Ambulance Service as being ‘in crises’. The call comes just days after the death of Wayne McQuillan following a stabbing incident at his home in Drogheda, Co. Louth in the early hours of New Years Day. It is claimed in the newspaper report that the casualty waited almost half an hour for an ambulance to arrive before being brought to hospital in an unmarked garda car. Wayne McQuillan died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital a short while later.
NASRA’s national secretary, Ambulance Paramedic Tony Gregg says that health cuts are devastating the service and putting lives at risk. He said “This isn’t the first time we have seen delays of up to 40 minutes. The simple fact is there are not enough ambulances. There is not enough staff and there are not enough stations. In the early days of austerity the minister said there would be no impact on frontline services. But this is clearly not true. Staffing issues are being compromised by austerity”
Minister of State and Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd has echoed the claims of the NASRA and said “Clearly 25 minutes is too long and I’m seeking clarity on the number of ambulances on duty.” While Independent TD for Meath Peadar Toibin added: “People are asking if they should just get a neighbor to drive an emergency patient to hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.”
The Health Service Executive confirmed to the Irish Mirror they received an emergency call but records show an ambulance arrived at the scene 25 minutes later, which by that stage gardai had already taken the victim to nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. The HSE also confirmed that the ambulance tasked to deal with Mr. McQuillan’s case was the nearest to the scene. The statement read “National Ambulance Service can confirm that the crew responding to the call was the nearest available resource at the time and all other crews in the area were attending to emergency calls. The NAS responds to calls on a prioritised basis. This prioritisation of calls is achieved via the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System which is in operation in all national Ambulance Service Command and Control Centres.”
NASRA’s Tony Gregg says the blame cannot be laid at the paramedics’ door. He said: “We have given everything we can absolutely give. We are committed to continuous professionalism in the job to meet the standards that are set down. We are putting our lives at risk, our jobs at risk; we are putting our families and the roofs over our heads at risk. There is no more we can give.”
Source: Irish Mirror (03/01/14)
Photo: Emergency Times