26 Sept 2022

Laois TD challenges HSE chief Paul Reid over 'inadequate' ambulance service

Laois TD challenges HSE chief Paul Reid over 'inadequate' ambulance service


A Laois TD has urged the chief of the HSE to increase Midlands ambulance staff and change how they are operated.

Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says that the response he got from Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer with the Health Service Executive is "very disappointing".

Deputy Stanley put his points to Mr Reid at a Public Accounts Committee meeting, days after a Laois schoolboy was told to wait on a wet soccer pitch for an ambulance that never showed up. Read that story here. 

“I raised this directly with Mr Reid today when he attended the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee. As Chair of the committee, I put it directly to him that the current system of deployment and the resources available are totally inadequate.’

“I outlined to him problems that have arisen recently in County Laois where ambulances have not shown up and where there have been delays in excess of two hours. This is not the fault of the crews of the ambulances, it’s down to the current system of deployment which means they are chasing calls all over the country.

"One example I gave was where an ambulance crew was sent towards County Carlow and they received a call three-quarters of the way there that informed them that they had been “stood down” and that the call had already been responded to. They were then diverted to Kilkenny and by the time they got to where the emergency was, there was a repeat call that another ambulance was on the case. They were subsequently diverted to Waterford and a similar situation arose.

"I am informed by ambulance personnel from different parts of the country that this pattern is repeated regularly. Unfortunately, this means that where an ambulance is needed in a local area, none is available. The ambulances from a particular base could be 120 kilometres away or more. ‘’

"I am informed that in one recent incident in Laois, where an ambulance was called to collect an injured person, the ambulance normally based in Laois was in County Wexford.

"I impressed upon Mr Reid that this is putting the health and life of people at risk in the Midlands and across the country. It cannot be ignored and as CEO he needs to address it. His response was dismissive. He stated that the service was an excellent one and the system in place is among the best. But I informed him that the reality on the ground is quite different.

"This problem is twofold and needs to be addressed now. Firstly, the current system of deployment needs to change, and geography should be taken into consideration. Secondly, extra ambulances and staff are needed as there have been nights in Laois where no local ambulances are available. I intend to pursue this with the Fianna Fáil Health Minister and Government," Dep Stanley added.

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