February 22, 2023
Increase in ambulance response times highly concerning and dangerous – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that the increase in ambulance response times since 2019 is hugely concerning and dangerous. Teachta Cullinane made the remarks ahead of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health session with the National Ambulance Service this morning.

He called on the government to publish and fund a multi-annual workforce plan to double the number of paramedics and to increase both training and retention in the service.

The Waterford TD was responding to data he received from the National Ambulance Service by parliamentary question.

The response outlines that the percentage of life-threatening incidents responded to within the target of 19 minutes has fallen from 75% in December 2019 to 65% in December 2022 for cardiac and respiratory arrest, and from 49% to just 30% for other life-threatening incidents.

The ambulance response time has increased across every region by 10 minutes on average since 2019.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The increase in average ambulance response times over the last three years is highly concerning and dangerous. These increases are stark and show that the Ambulance Service is under serious strain and pressure, which is exactly what paramedics have been warning for years.

“The continuous decrease in the Ambulance Service’s ability to respond to life threatening incidents within target timeframes shows that the government is failing to properly resource the service.

“Ambulance response times have increased on average by 10 minutes across the eight regions since 2019. In the south-east, the average ambulance response time was over 30 minutes in 2022, up from 21 minutes in 2019.

“The percentage of life-threatening incidents responded to within the target of 19 minutes has fallen from 75% in December 2019 to 65% in December 2022 for cardiac and respiratory arrest, and from 49% to just 30% for other life-threatening incidents.

“A decrease in standards of this magnitude is dangerous. It is putting patients at risk, and it is forcing paramedics to work extremely long hours. That is not good for the individual paramedic, and many are concerned about the risk this presents to them, to patients, and to the public.

“The government must take urgent action to address the crisis in the ambulance service. The Minister for Health must publish and fund a multi-annual workforce plan to double the number of paramedics and to increase both training and retention in the service.

“A serious plan is needed if the Ambulance Service is to reverse the trend and improve outcomes.”

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