Calls to end ‘charade of a review’ of Dublin ambulances

The joint HSE-Dublin City Council review of the service to examine patient care and value for money was announced last month

Brendan O’Brien, industrial organiser with Siptu, has written to city manager Owen Keegan calling on him to “abandon what is a charade of a review” of Dublin’s ambulance service. Photograph: David Sleator

Brendan O’Brien, industrial organiser with Siptu, has written to city manager Owen Keegan calling on him to “abandon what is a charade of a review” of Dublin’s ambulance service. Photograph: David Sleator

Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 07:24


Renewed calls have been made for a review of Dublin’s ambulance service to be abandoned following revelations about a HSE plan drawn up last year to take charge of the service.

The joint HSE-Dublin City Council review of the service to examine patient care and value for money was announced last month. It is being conducted by former deputy Dublin city manager Derek Brady and former interim director of the HSE’s National Ambulance Service Martin Flaherty. It is due for completion by the end of May.

However, revelations in The Irish Times this week of a HSE plan, drawn up last March, to take control of the ambulance service away from Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) by the end of next year have caused concern among some councillors and union representatives.

The HSE plan says that in the absence of a formal service-level agreement between the HSE and the city council, the HSE “is constrained in its plans to develop an integrated national ambulance service”.

It also has inadequate control over both the €10 million transferred to DFB-city council towards the ambulance service annually and the quality of services.

DFB has provided the ambulance service in the city since 1898 on behalf of the city council, while the HSE provides the service outside Dublin.

The HSE contributes €9.4 million per year towards the estimated €11 million cost of the DFB ambulance service, out of a national ambulance budget of €134 million.

Brendan O’Brien, industrial organiser with Siptu, has written to city manager Owen Keegan calling on him to “abandon what is a charade of a review”.

He said the HSE plan to incrementally withdraw funding from DFB “supports the concerns expressed that the outcome of the HSE-DCC review has already been pre-ordained”.


Independent review
Separately, Siptu and Impact have written to Mr Flaherty notifying him the unions would be declining the opportunity to make a submission to the review. “We do not see the value of participating in such a review where the outcome has already been pre-determined by the HSE.

“We are, however, fully prepared to make a full submission to an independent review body, which includes stakeholder representation and agreed terms of reference.”

A motion before the council’s finance committee this afternoon, calling on Dublin City Council to “reject any attempt by the HSE to take control of Dublin’s ambulance service currently provided by Dublin Fire Brigade” and calling for “a formal service-level agreement for the continued provision of the service by DFB [to] be negotiated”, is expected to be passed.

It follows the passing of two Labour Party motions at city council and South Dublin County Council meetings calling for the suspension of the review pending the outcome of the HSE national ambulance capacity review.

Ignoring motion
However, the city manager said he would “ignore the motion” passed at the city council meeting. “I think I am within my legal rights as manager to do that,” Mr Keegan said.

Labour councillor Michael O’Sullivan, who supported the motion to suspend the review, said yesterday he now thought the review should be abandoned altogether.

“We now know, following the revelations of the past few days, that this is not a review – it’s a winding-up mechanism. It is clear the outcome of the review has already been decided.”

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said that he would vote in favour of this afternoon’s motion.