Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has said that poor ambulance response times in Kerry are putting patients’ lives at risk. Senator Daly made the comments after figures released by the HSE reveal that ambulances dispatched to life threatening 999 calls in Kerry regularly fail to meet the HIQA response time standards of arriving on scene in less than 19 minutes.
Senator Daly commented, “Figures recently released by the HSE show that the National Ambulance Service is regularly failing to meet the response times as set out by HIQA. According to the HSE less than 60% of ambulances dispatched to a life-threatening 999 call in Kerry reach their destination within the 19 minute response time target as required by HIQA. It has been acknowledged by HIQA that an ambulance needs to be on the scene of a 999 call in under 19 minutes to ensure that the patients has the best possible outcome.
“Research shows us that delays in getting patients who are suffering from a life threatening illness to hospital put them at a far higher risk of dying or having serious long term complications. The fact that just over half of ambulances manage to reach their destinations within the response time set out by HIQA shows us that we have a serious problem with the provision of emergency ambulance care in Kerry. In some cases patients have been left waiting for up to an hour before an ambulance arrives on the scene.
“The removal of ambulance services from Millstreet and Killarney has undoubtedly had an impact on response times. Prior to the withdrawal of services in these areas many community stakeholders, including myself, argued that patients would suffer due to funding cutbacks. These figures clearly show that our worst fears are being realised and it is undoubtedly the case that the removal of services is leading to an increase in fatalities.
“The government needs to recognise that withdrawing ambulances and cutting back on services is harming patients and will lead to an increase in long term complications. The ambulance services that have been removed to date must be reinstated. The government must also allocate adequate funding to ensure that all ambulances reach their destinations in less than 19 minutes as required by HIQA. Patients must be given the best possible chance of overcoming a life threatening emergency” said Senator Daly.