As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government commits to increasing capacity in our National Ambulance Service (NAS). In this regard the Government is investing significantly in building service resilience into the NAS as well as providing for its continuing strategic reform from an emergency medical service into a modern, responsive and agile mobile medical service in line with the aims of Sláintecare to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
Year-on-year increases in financial investment in the NAS have since 2016 provided for a staffing growth of some 16%. Today the NAS has a staffing complement of over 2,000 whole time equivalents - up from just under 1,750 at the end of 2016. This year, the NAS received its largest allocation to date of €187.5 million which included €10 million to provide for new service developments including:
- Continuing to target capacity deficits as identified in the NAS emergency service baseline and capacity review;
- Progressing the development of alternative patient care pathways to manage low acuity calls in an integrated manner in partnership with other healthcare providers;
- Strengthening the capacity of the NAS critical care and retrieval services;
In 2022, the National Ambulance Service will receive its largest overall investment to date of €200.7m - up by some €30 million from that allocated in 2019. This total includes a further €8.3 million to progress new service developments including the provision of additional frontline staffing to further address capacity deficits.
I can assure the Deputy that the Government remains committed to increasing capacity in the NAS and supporting its continued strategic reform.