Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (117)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

117. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the Health Service Executive's plans to remove the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service; the reasons for possible removal of the service; if the reasons involve the issue of cost and Health Information and Quality Authority oversight; if his attention has been drawn to the vital work that the 800 highly skilled and committed firefighter-paramedics and advanced paramedics currently do in protecting over 1 million civilians in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14696/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) provides emergency ambulance services in Dublin city and county, by arrangement between Dublin City Council and the HSE. The HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) provides some emergency capacity in the greater Dublin area, as well as non-emergency patient transport. The ongoing development of pre-hospital emergency care involves a range of initiatives, including the development of a single national control and dispatch system for the State. This new system, expected to be completed in 2015, will deploy all emergency ambulance resources in the State, including emergency ambulances, rapid response and intermediate care vehicles, first responders, aeromedical services and ambulances in Dublin.

In the context of the development of the national control system, the Dublin City Manager and the HSE's Chief Operating Officer have commissioned a joint review of DFB ambulance services in Dublin City and County. The review will consider all aspects of ambulance operations provided by DFB within the Dublin area, including the capacity and capability of ambulance services. The review will inform consideration of the best model for provision of emergency medical services in the greater Dublin area. It is part of the process of ensuring a clinically driven, nationally co-ordinated system, supported by improved technology, so that emergency pre-hospital care can continue to modernise and services can be delivered in an appropriate and timely manner, to the benefit of patients.

There has been speculation about this review and I am aware of the concerns expressed by some about the future of the service. I want to assure those concerned that I fully appreciate the service the Fire Brigade provides. This review is not a negative reflection on that service. It is being conducted in parallel with the HIQA review of the National Ambulance Service and the NAS capacity review. The intention behind all of these reviews is to examine our pre-hospital emergency care services throughout the country, with a view to identifying the best way to enable them to meet the challenges of the future. I look forward to the recommendations of all three reviews, which I am certain will enable us to ensure that we provide a service capable of delivering the best possible outcomes for the public.