Donegal TD Thomas Pringle says three more ambulances should be based in the county
A patient was brought to Letterkenny University Hospital in a garda car because no ambulance was available, the Dáil has been told.
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle says three more ambulances should be based in the county amid reports of staff suffering burnout over exhaustion due to extremely long shifts.
He said Donegal-based ambulances have been tasked to locations as far away as Tipperary and Mayo in recent weeks.
Addressing the Dáil on Tuesday evening, the independent TD said: “Covid-19 has highlighted not only the importance of our ambulance services, but the severe stress that we put on them due to the complete failure of this government to provide the necessary funding and investment these services need.
“I stood in this House in 2014, calling on the Government to address the lack of staff and resources being reported by the ambulance services. Yet I stand here again, more than seven years later, and very little has changed. The incompetence of this government, as well as previous Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments, is absolutely staggering,” he said. “They say that it cannot be fixed overnight but I fail to see how it can’t be fixed over seven years.
“To fix the ambulance service in Donegal would, I believe, take the provision of three extra ambulances in the county: one in the Killybegs base, one in Inishowen and one more in the county generally.”
He said ambulance crews backed up at hospitals waiting to discharge patients is a typical example of the dysfunction of health services.
The deputy said there have also been fears over the future of the ambulance base in Lifford, and said, “I cannot stress enough that Donegal cannot afford to lose any further ambulance bases.”
‘Best international practice’
In response to the report of the ambulance being dissipated to Tipperary, Minister of State at the Department of Health Anne Rabbitte said “the current deployment model is aligned to best international practice and was put in place following HIQA recommendations regarding safety concerns with former health board level control centres”
“In the context of current service pressure and capacity issues, the NAS and trade unions have a working group in place that is jointly looking at what work practice changes are possible.,” she said.
“This will improve staff experiences without affecting or compromising patient safety. While a timeline for the conclusion of these discussions is not yet available, the NAS has emphasised that there is no intention to move away from the HIQA-recommended model and return to a geographical limited model, which would reintroduce inherent patient safety risks that were eliminated when the local control centres were closed.”
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