Senator Robbie Gallagher says that if ambulance turnaround times do not improve, lives will continue to be put at risk. Senator Gallagher was speaking after the HSE released information about turnaround times at every hospital in the country that receives emergency ambulances.
“The fact that just one in four ambulance visits met the 20 minute turnaround is a scandal, and its difficult to see it improving any time soon. Of the 21,373 visits by ambulances to our hospitals, just 5,377 were completed within the required 20 minute deadline,” said Senator Gallagher.
“Every minute an ambulance spends at Emergency Department is a minute it isn’t in the community available to answer emergency call outs. When ambulances are delayed at hospitals, there will be situations where sick people, sometimes critically ill, are left waiting for attention. Slow turnaround times are another possible contributing factor for delay. Lives will be lost if this situation isn’t dealt with. Only recently we heard of situations in this county where people were left waiting for over an hour on an ambulance to arrive. This is deeply frustrating and alarming for people in rural areas who are depending on ambulances to take them to hospital in times of emergency. It is also frightening for family members and the local community,” he said.
“There may be, of course, exceptional circumstances where it may take longer to turnaround an ambulance, but it is now the norm for ambulances to miss the 20 minute deadline. The number of hospitals that are not only failing to meet the 20 minute deadline are missing them by significant margins is a major concern,” he added.
“The Minister needs to work with the National Ambulance Service and the HSE National Hospital Managers to identify why these targets are not been met and to put in place implementation and oversight mechanisms to ensure that they are met into the future,” he said.
“Having ambulances out of action is not acceptable. These figures should be used as a wake-up call by the Government to address the challenges in our emergency health departments,” he concluded.