February 27, 2023
Government failure to support ambulance service putting lives at risk – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the government to urgently publish a multi-annual capacity and workforce plan to meet the needs of patients and improve the ability of the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade to save lives.

Speaking ahead of a Sinn Féin motion on the issue, to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday, Teachta Cullinane said:

“Despite the tireless work of frontline paramedics and operational staff in dealing with increased demand without proportional resource increases, the increase in average ambulance response times over the last three years is highly concerning and dangerous. 

“The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has failed to support our frontline paramedics, and in Budget 2023 Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath chose not to provide the funding needed to reverse the trend in ambulance response times.

“All of this has led to the burnout of frontline paramedics and has increased risk for patients due to increased response times.

“The increases in response times are stark and show that the Ambulance Service is under serious strain and pressure; exactly what paramedics have been warning for years.

“80 percent of life-threatening incidents should be responded to by an ambulance within 19 minutes as per the HSE’s own standards. Yet average response times have lengthened by 50 per cent since 2019, by an average of nine minutes, from 18 to nearly 27 minutes, and up to 33 minutes on average in the south-east.

“The National Ambulance Service currently has approximately 2,000 paramedics, and their workforce plan lays out a need for more than 1,300 more paramedics by the end of 2024 and a need to double the staffing composition to more than 4,000 by 2026.

“The National Ambulance Service needs more than 3,000 paramedics in the next four years to meet these targets, and they have warned that if these targets are not met, they ‘will have insufficient resources to respond to the projected demand, and as a result, 19-minute performance would be considerably less than 40%’.

“This is dangerous and is putting people’s lives at risk.

“Sinn Féin is calling on the government to urgently publish a multi-annual capacity and workforce plan to meet the needs of patients and improve the ability of the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade to save lives.

“The government must take urgent action to address this crisis, and a serious plan is needed if the Ambulance Service is to reverse the trend and improve outcomes.”

Sinn Féin’s motion can be read here.

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