Motion re Ambulance Service:

“That Dáil Éireann:

acknowledging the:

selfless dedication to their work of the paramedics in our ambulance service;

high quality of care that they provide; and

uniquely pressurised nature of the work they undertake;

recognises that:

there is nationwide concern and disquiet about the provision of ambulance services;

this situation can be exacerbated by delays in accident and emergency wards;

in 2013 only one in every three people with life-threatening conditions were responded to within the target time;

delays in ambulance response times far exceed both national and international accepted norms;

large areas of the population right across the country are regularly left without any local ambulance cover;

the Health Service Executive lowered the ambulance response time targets to 80 per cent in 2012 and 70 per cent in 2013; and

the centralisation of control and dispatch has led to concerns about a lack of local knowledge and the impact that can have;

notes that:

the Republic of Ireland, with a population of 4.6 million, has an ambulance service that employs less than 1,600 staff and an annual budget of €137.4 million;

Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.7 million, has an ambulance service that employs just fewer than 1200 staff with an annual budget of £62 million (€78 million); and

Scotland, with a population of 5.3 million, has an ambulance service that employs over 4,500 staff with an annual budget of £203.5 million (€258 million);

believes that:

while paramedics do their utmost to provide a service to the highest international standards, this is impossible with current budgets;

it is essential that paramedics be properly resourced to carry out their work; and

such resources are not currently forthcoming from the Government; and
calls for the ambulance service to be appropriately resourced so as to ensure a safe and efficient service nationwide.”

Deputy Seamus Healy:   I rise to support the motion on the ambulance service requesting adequate funding for the service. Anybody who has an eye to see or an ear to hear knows that the ambulance service is under-funded, under-resourced, understaffed and under-equipped and that it compares unfavourably with our neighbours in Northern Ireland and particularly Scotland. We have about 1,600 staff while Scotland, which has a similar population, has 4,500 staff and double the funding. It is widely accepted that the ambulance service in this country is in crisis. The Minister has looked for a review from HIQA. The unions and staff associations have been looking for a resource study for a number of years and I believe the HSE has finally agreed to such a study.

In these circumstances, there should be no more service cuts and certainly no more service cuts in south Tipperary. I commend the Tipperary Ambulance Action Group which is opposed to the cuts across south Tipperary and came together to campaign on this issue. It has completed a comprehensive study of the ambulance service in south Tipperary. The study confirms that on the basis of the current ambulance service configuration in the county which is based on three stations – Clonmel, Cashel and Tipperary town – the current staffing levels and equipment in those stations, in excess of 55% of the population of south Tipperary cannot be given an adequate service that meets the minimum response times. What does the HSE want to do? On top of a crisis, it wants to introduce further cuts. This is completely ridiculous and I am calling on the Minister to stop any cuts in the ambulance service, not just in south Tipperary but throughout the country, and to ensure that the service is properly funded and staffed.