Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD has said that unless ambulance turnaround times improve, lives will continue to be put at risk.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after receiving information from the HSE about turnaround times at every hospital in the country that receives emergency ambulances.

“The fact that just one in four ambulance visits met the 20 minute turnaround is a scandal, and I don’t see it improving any time soon.

“Of the 21,373 visits by ambulances to our hospitals, just 5,377 were completed within the required 20 minute deadline.

“Every minute an ambulance spends at Emergency Department is a minute it isn’t in the community available to answer emergency call outs.

“There’s no point denying the reality of this – when ambulances are stuck at hospitals, there will be situations where sick people, sometimes critically ill, are left waiting for attention. Lives will be lost if this situation isn’t dealt with.

“There are, of course, exceptional circumstances where it may take longer to turnaround an ambulance, but it is now the norm for ambulances to miss the 20 min deadline.

“I am very concerned by the number of hospitals that are not only failing to meet the 20 min deadline are missing them by significant margins.

“21% of all ambulances visits to University Hospital Galway take longer than 60 minutes. This is something that isn’t sustainable, and must be addressed.

“Minister Harris needs to work with the National Ambulance Service and the HSE National Hospital Managers to identify why these targets are not been met and to put in place implementation and oversight mechanisms to ensure that they are met into the future.

“Having ambulances out of action is not acceptable. These figures should be used as a wakeup call by the Government to address the challenges in our emergency health departments,” concluded Kelleher.