Laois and Offaly lives 'at risk' over long ambulance turnaround times

Leinster Express Reporter

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Lives at risk over ambulance turnaround times in Laois and Offaly - claims Renua leader

Ambulance turnaround risk lives.

RENUA leader and Offaly councillor wants answers from HSE and Minister Simon Harris

Lives are at risk in Laois and Offaly due to dangerously long ambulance turnaround times for patients, according to RENUA Ireland leader John Leahy.

Cllr Leahy said ambulances in emergency should meet an average turn-around time of twenty minutes but these targets not being reached at two bases in either county. The Offaly county councillor challenged the HSE to explain why.

The former general election candidate said figures prove these targets are being badly missed at bases in Portlaoise and Tullamore.

TULLAMORE

Cleared in 20 Minutes or less - 13.5%  

Cleared in 30 Minutes or less – 39.5%

Cleared in 60 minutes or less - 94.2%  

Cleared in 1-2 hours or less - 5.8%

Average Time 35.13

PORTLAOISE  

Cleared in 20 minutes or less -25.3%

Cleared in 30 minutes or less - 53.1%

Cleared in 60 minutes or less - 90.5%

Cleared in 1-2 hours or less - 9.2%

Cleared in 2-3 hours - 0.3%

Average Clearance time 33.11 minutes    

"I am gravely concerned that Tullamore is failing utterly to meet HSE targets and the situation in Portlaoise is equally unsettling," said the Offaly County Councillor.

He said it is not good enough that barely one in eight Tullamore ambulances are cleared in the correct time. The main hospital for Laois and Offaly is located in Tullamore.

"The fact that it takes so many ambulances, more that 50%, take up to an hour to be cleared speaks of a totally dysfunctional system.

"How on earth for example is that one in twenty ambulances take between one and two hours to clear.

"We need answers quickly as to why the average turn-around time is, at 35.13 minutes almost twice the acceptable rate," he said.

Cllr Leahy said Minister Harris needs to impose some accountability on this system. He warned the situation is equally deplorable in Portlaoise.

"The situation in Laois is equally stark with three quarters of ambulance clearances failing to meet the twenty minutes objective," he said.

"I am particularly concerned that almost one in ten hospitals take more than an hour whilst the average clearance time, at 33.11 minutes, is little better than that of Tullamore.

Mr Leahy said: “Once again lives are being put at risk. Ambulances backed up in Emergency Departments are not available to the community or to people who are seriously ill.

He said there are always exceptional circumstances, but, currently the exception is the norm.

"It is time to tackle this crisis now with leadership and organization and to ask the National Ambulance Service and the HSE National Hospital Managers to identify realistic pro-active solutions on the ground,” said the councillor.

The HSE said ambulance turnaround times are measured as part of the National Service Plan. It said the ambulance turnaround in the National Service Plan is as follows: “% of ambulance turnaround delays escalated where ambulance crews were not cleared nationally in 60 minutes (from ambulance arrival time through clinical handover in ED or specialist unit to when the ambulance crew declares readiness of the ambulance to accept another call) in line with the process / flow path in the ambulance turnaround framework are measured monthly.”

The HSE said there is an agreed ambulance turnaround framework agreed with the acute hospital division, where there is an escalation process for delays experienced.