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03 Oct 2022

Laois TD blames understaffing for missed lifesaving ambulance targets

Ambulance

A Laois Offaly TD has claimed midlands ambulance staff are burnt out and missing response targets due to staffing shortages. 

Local TD Brian Stanley has criticised the Government’s failure to train and retain enough paramedics to safely staff the National Ambulance Service.

He says figures obtained by Sinn Féin this week show a deepening crisis in the ambulance service and target response times being completely missed.”

According to Deputy Stanley, “Ambulance response times to life-threatening callouts in Midlands Region for this year was 28 minutes compared to 25minutes for the same period last year and well above the 19-minute maximum target.”

‘The Ambulance Service has been run into the ground over the last ten years, and this is showing in average response times and patients’ experience. 50% of life-threatening callouts should be responded to within 19 minutes, but across the State only 39% were in June… The average response time is up from last year and show a continuing deterioration,’’ said Deputy Stanley. 

“The reason emergency callouts are taking longer are because the ambulance service is understaffed. I have highlighted over the past two years cases in the constituency where people have waited up two hours for an ambulance. Paramedics are burned out and exhausted. The Ambulance Service spent €18.8m on overtime in 2021, with two-third of paramedics working significant overtime every month. They regularly have to work longer than their standard 12 hour shift,’’ claimed Deputy Stanley. 

He said: “The Government have not been retaining or training enough paramedics. The Ambulance Service needs about 2,000 more paramedics in the next five years, and about half of them are needed now.  Yet, only 32 paramedics enrolled in training in 2020, while 83 left the Ambulance Service in 2021.’’

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“We need to increase training places for paramedics and invest in the Ambulance Service to recruit and retain paramedics. Sinn Féin would provide funding to increase paramedicine training places by an extra 50 next year,” he said.  

“We would reduce the dependency on overtime and deal with the issue of burnout by engaging with paramedics who have left and with trade unions to support the paramedics we have,’ continued Deputy Stanely. ’

“Our priority needs to be creating a sustainable domestic pipeline of trained paramedics to safely staff the ambulance service,” Deputy Stanley concluded. 

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