Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (246)

Brendan Griffin


246. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if he is concerned by the findings of the "Prime Time Investigates" programme on the ambulance service, broadcast on 27 March 2014; if he will take immediate action to address problems in the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15672/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Ambulance Service is working to modernise and reconfigure its services to ensure emergency pre-hospital care is delivered in an appropriate and timely manner. As with pre-hospital care in other jurisdictions, development and modernisation is an ongoing process, as technology and clinical standards change.

While accepting the need to further improve performance, it is important to acknowledge that progress is being made. A significant reform programme is currently underway within the National Ambulance Service and additional funding of €3.6 million and 43 staff have been provided for this in the National Service Plan 2014.

A single national control system is being developed, which will improve the control and dispatch process. The NAS is developing the Intermediate Care Service, which transports patients between facilities, and allows emergency vehicles to focus on emergency situations. Work is continuing on the development of efficient on-duty rostering and developing a national rostering system.

The NAS, as well as the immense work it has undertaken to improve its own clinical standards and processes, works with other clinical areas, like the Emergency Medicine, Acute Coronary and Medicine Transport programmes, to support their work in providing better patient care.

I am committed to making further improvements to the ambulance service. To this end three separate reviews of pre-hospital emergency care in Ireland are currently underway:

- HIQA is examining governance arrangements, to ensure the timely assessment, diagnosis, initial management and transport of acutely ill patients to appropriate care;

- A joint review of Dublin ambulance services has been commissioned by Dublin City Council and the HSE to determine the optimal and most cost-effective model of ambulance services delivery for the city.

- An independent review of NAS capacity is being undertaken to determine the level and use of resourcing required in terms of staff, vehicles, skills and distribution, for a safe and effective service now and into the future.

These reviews will inform the development of a modern, clinically driven system, properly resourced, for appropriate and timely services to the benefit of patients.

The NAS will continue to modernise and reconfigure its services, to deliver timely and appropriate emergency pre-hospital care. The ongoing reform programme will provide a clinically driven, nationally co-ordinated system, supported by improved technology.