Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O’Brien has called for an urgent statement from the Health Minister about the crisis in ambulance services in North County Dublin.
An area serving a population of 300,000 people has been left without any HSE ambulance for over a week, with warnings that this gaping hole in emergency services could continue for at least another next two months.
It comes after a new HSE ambulance base, which was due to open on Tuesday last week, has been deemed unusable as it is lacking the most basic facilities. The HSE told ambulance workers this week that it could be at least another two months before the facility is ready. This means that the entire North County Dublin region has lost its two HSE ambulances. Just one Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance is left to deal with all emergencies in the region.
Local Senator Darragh O’Brien has described it as a crisis in emergency cover in north Dublin and has called on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to intervene.
“It is completely unacceptable that coming into the winter months, a large geographical area with a population of 300,000 people would be left with no HSE ambulance base. It means that local emergencies must be handled by the one Fire Brigade ambulance serving the region and ambulances will have to be called over from St James Hospital on the other side of the city to respond to emergencies,” explained Senator O’Brien.
“There is no doubt that this gaping hole in a key frontline emergency service is putting lives at risk in North County Dublin. It will be impossible to maintain safe emergency response times without any local HSE ambulance. I am calling for urgent action from Minister Varadkar before lives are lost,” the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson said.
Cllr Adrian Henchy, Fianna Fáil member of the HSE Regional Forum, warned about the impending crisis for months. Cllr Henchy questioned the head of the HSE’s ambulance service at a meeting in July and was told that the new ambulance base at Lissenhall would be ready within two months.
“We are now passed the date by which I was told the ambulance base would be ready. This week the HSE has moved the date out by a further two months. Despite several warnings and despite me raising the issue with HSE management on a number of occasions, we are now in a situation where the base is unusable. This was entirely avoidable. We need to hear from health management at the highest level about how this emergency will be resolved,” said Cllr Henchy.