The fact that a person was left waiting three and a half hours for an ambulance in Dublin yesterday evening points to a clear and present risk to patient safety and calls into question the adequacy of the ambulance service, according to Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher.
Deputy Kelleher said he is “genuinely concerned by media reports detailing a litany of explanations as to why a patient had to wait three and a half hours for an ambulance while they were assessed by phone. This is utterly unacceptable in any circumstance.
“The explanations apparently given for the delays, such as trolleys not being cleared in Emergency Departments to be put back into service in ambulances is one I have been hearing about and highlighting on a regular basis. These highlight fundamental pinch-points in the Emergency Department systems that have not been addressed by the Minister for Health.
“There are very real concerns about patient safety and the adequacy of the ambulance service at the moment. In Dublin I know there are genuine fears that incidents such as this will ultimately be used to dismantle the Dublin Fire Brigade Ambulance Service as we know it, when in actual fact there is evidence that this service actually operates to a better degree than the National Ambulance Service overseen by the HSE.
“The shortage of ambulances and the unnecessarily long turnaround times at certain hospitals is causing serious problems for the ambulance service. These are not issues that Minister Varadkar can simply brush aside. I don’t ever want to see a case, similar the one experienced yesterday, ending in tragic and avoidable circumstances but I am genuinely worried that the Government and the Minister are taking quite a casual approach to resolving these issues. I don’t get the sense of urgency that should be applied to a crisis of this magnitude.”