Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Children Robert Troy says he’s seriously concerned about the reliability of the HSE’s ambulance fleet. New figures released to the Longford-Westmeath Deputy reveal that over half of all ambulances on the road have more than 240,000 kilometres on the clock.
Deputy Troy commented, “I am gravely concerned about the ability of the ambulance fleet to carry out its important work properly, given the fact that so many vehicles have such high mileage. Figures released by the HSE at the Oireachtas Health Committee show that over half of all emergency ambulances have travelled more than 240,000 kilometres, while almost one in three have clocked up 320,000 kilometres.
“There have been a number of incidents in recent months whereby ambulances have broken down with very ill patients on board. The latest case happened on Saturday when an ambulance carrying a patient on life support came to a halt on the M1 motorway. The ambulance was only 10 minutes into its journey between Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and St. James’ Hospital in Dublin when the incident happened. This is an extremely serious situation and raises questions about the safety of the fleet.
“Garda vehicles have to be retired once they reach 300,000 kilometres, yet there are 84 emergency ambulances on Irish roads with more than 320,000 kilometres on the odometer. These are vehicles which are used to respond to emergency situations and to transfer critically ill patients. It is only a matter of time before a tragedy occurs.
“Minister Reilly’s mishandling of the health budgets has led to severe cutbacks across the entire health sector, including the ambulance service. These have led to long delays in response times as well as backlogs at hospitals because of a shortage of vehicles. A HIQA report into the National Ambulance Service is expected to be published in the autumn.
“The ambulance service is deteriorating rapidly because of drastic cost cutting measures brought in by this Minister. I am seriously concerned that the service is unable to cope with the demands that are being put on it. The series of breakdowns involving ambulances with patients on board is alarming and I am calling on the HSE and the National Ambulance Service to provide a full explanation, and for the authorities to urgently address this issue”.