Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (551)

Derek Keating

Question:

551. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that there is an adequate ambulance service in the greater Dublin area to respond to emergency calls, general practitioner requests for patients' admissions, transfers from hospital to hospital and particularly cardiac response units; his plans to address any shortfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30112/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Statutory pre-hospital emergency care services for the State are provided by the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) and, on behalf of the NAS in the greater Dublin area, Dublin Fire Brigade.

A significant reform programme has been underway in recent years in pre-hospital care services across the country, including the greater Dublin area, for the development of a clinically driven, nationally co-ordinated system, supported by improved technology. The programme involves a number of measures, including the performance improvement action plan, development of the intermediate care service (ICS), the pilot emergency aeromedical support service (EAS), and the national control centre reconfiguration project.

The NAS is taking steps to address challenges nationally, such as reliance on on-call rostering, geography, resourcing and the use of emergency ambulances for routine transport. The move from on-call to on-duty rostering for ambulance services is a key part of improving the service, as highly trained paramedic crews are in their stations or vehicles to respond immediately to dispatches. New rosters are now in place, including in the greater Dublin area, and are operating successfully. The NAS is also developing the ICS, a non-emergency transport fleet, for routine clinical transfers of patients, freeing emergency ambulances for emergency responses.

The national control centre reconfiguration project will produce one national control and dispatching system. With improved technology, this will allow the NAS to deploy emergency resources, including those in Dublin, more effectively and efficiently, on a regional and national basis rather than within small geographic areas. The project, endorsed by HIQA, is a key element of Future Health. Ambulance services in the greater Dublin area and elsewhere will be reviewed as part of this project.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy regarding ambulance services in the greater Dublin area, as these are operational issues for the HSE I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy.