Minister Welcomes HIQA Report

Minister Varadkar has responded to the recently published HIQA report.

The report involved a major review of the emergency ambulance service and was critical in a number of areas.

In some control centres, staffing levels were found to be 'unsafe', while the fleet is ageing. In addition, general cooperation between the Dublin Fire Brigade and the National Ambulance Service was said to be poor.

Commenting on the report, Minister Varadkar said the report could now be used as a "catalyst for further improvement of ambulance services".

The report was brought forward by Minister James Reilly and is the first of a series looking at ambulance services.

When all of these reports are in, the Minister will then request from the HSE National Ambulance Service an action plan with timelines to establish a new vision for the country's ambulance services.

Minister Varadkar commented: "Our ambulance services have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. I am grateful to the staff of the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade for the service they provide for our citizens.

"In the past, ambulances focused mainly on transporting patients to or between hospitals. Now, paramedics treat patients on the scene and en route.

"Intermediate Care Vehicles have freed up more ambulances for emergencies, allowing target times to be met. Rapid Response Vehicles bring advanced paramedics and doctors to emergencies to provide rapid treatment in advance of the arrival of an ambulance."

He continued: "The HIQA report gives us some very good guidance on how services can be improved in the medium term. It's clear that more investment will be needed to modernise the fleet and more staff will need to be provided in some areas, but HIQA also makes it clear that existing resources are not being used to best effect.

"More ambulances could be on dynamic dispatch rather than being parked up and waiting for a call in fire stations, ambulance bases or hospitals. A lot more needs to be done to improve turnaround times at Emergency Departments."

The Minister concluded: "I also support HIQA's view that greater integration between the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service and the National Ambulance Service is needed."


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