Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has lambasted the Minister for Health after reports that 95 year old woman in Drogheda was left waiting three and a half hours for an ambulance last Sunday night.
Deputy Munster was speaking on statements on Covid-19 in the Dáil chamber on Wednesday evening, where she also raised the case of two paramedics who have been on managerial leave at the Drogheda ambulance service since the end of July, which has seen them spending 12 hour shifts sitting in an office, unable to go out in an ambulance or carry out any duties.
Deputy Munster said:
“On Sunday night a nursing home in Drogheda called an ambulance for a gravely ill 95 year old resident. That woman was waiting for three and a half hours for an ambulance.
“I’ve since learned that there are currently 2 paramedics in Drogheda ambulance station on managerial leave, which means they spend 12 hour shifts sitting in an office in the station, not working.
“This has been the situation since the end of July and there is no sign of the matter being resolved. The two workers want to return to work, but are being prevented from doing so.
“I am told that this week alone, 14 shifts will have to be covered due to various members of the ambulance service being on leave.
“The service has long been understaffed, but in the midst of a pandemic we have to ensure that all qualified health workers who can work, are working.
“We are facing into what is expected to be the hardest winter for healthcare in the history of the state, and we are woefully unprepared.
“Pressures on the service are going to increase, and we can expect increases in sick leave and Covid-related leave for staff in the coming weeks and months.
“I have written to the Minister for Health asking him to explain the three and a half hour wait for an ambulance, and this is before we head into the depths of winter. He needs to get ahead of this.
“The issue with these two paramedics must be resolved as a matter of urgency, and the wider long-standing issues of understaffing at the ambulance service have to address immediately, or there could be tragic consequences for people this winter.”