Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “serious concern at Ambulance cover and patient safety in the north east region, as well as across the state, following a response to a recent Parliamentary Question.”
In a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health Teachta Adams asked the Minister “the time allocated for ambulance response times for Clinical Status 1 Delta Calls in 2014 and 2015; and the percentage of ambulances that achieved this goal.”
Teachta Adams said:
“Delta calls relate to life threatening illness or injury, other than cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The response from the HSE reveals that last November – the latest month available – only 61% of ambulances achieved the Delta target response time of 18 minutes and 59 seconds.
The HSE response reveals that the average time for the 11 months up to the end of November 2015 was down on the previous year. In 2015 the percentage of Ambulances achieving the 18 minutes and 59 seconds target was 65.2 per cent. This is a drop from the 66.2 per cent in 2016.
This is a cause for serious concern. Ambulances are only reaching their targeted time to respond to a Delta 1 life threatening alert in less than two thirds of cases.
The implications of this for patient safety are a cause of grave concern.
The ambulance staff do a remarkable job under very difficult circumstances and with inadequate resources.
Several months ago I raised with the Taoiseach the condition of the ambulance fleet following an incident in August when the two back wheels of an ambulance fell off as it was transporting a chronically ill patient on a life support machine from Letterkenny to Galway. The wheel fell off outside Sligo. As well as the patient, there was a nurse, a nurse and doctor and two paramedics in the vehicle.
On that occasion only the skill of the driver prevented this incident from becoming a much more serious accident with lives lost.
The vehicle which lost its wheels was 8 years old and had done an amazing 411,786 kms. That’s over 50,000 kilometres a year.
A similar incident occurred in March 2014 in county Louth when a wheel came off an ambulance as it returned to Dundalk from Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda. The week before there was a similar incident in the mid-west and earlier that year a Dublin fire brigades ambulance also lost a wheel.
Sinn Féin has consistently made the case that the government has presided over the erosion of our public services. The information in respect of ambulance response times and the mechanical failures of some ambulances are evidence of this.
Citizens in Louth, as well as elsewhere in the state, deserve a credible and effective ambulance service and the minister has a responsibility to deliver this.”