HSE rejects paramedics’ claims cutbacks affect response times

National Ambulance Service believes comments are ‘inappropriate’

National Ambulance Service Representative Association chairman Michael Dixon said ‘a worrying rise’ in the number of serious delays in ambulance response times was ‘evidence the service cannot meet response time targets while resources and personnel continue to be cut’.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

National Ambulance Service Representative Association chairman Michael Dixon said ‘a worrying rise’ in the number of serious delays in ambulance response times was ‘evidence the service cannot meet response time targets while resources and personnel continue to be cut’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 21:20

The HSE has rejected claims by the group representing paramedics that cutbacks make the prospect of an ambulance not reaching the scene of an emergency on time “all the more likely”.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) recommends that life-threatening cardiac or respiratory arrests (Echo calls) and other life- threatening emergencies (Delta calls) should receive “first responder” medical attention in under eight minutes in three- quarters of all cases.

National Ambulance Service Representative Association chairman Michael Dixon said “a worrying rise” in the number of serious delays in ambulance response times was “evidence the service cannot meet response time targets while resources and personnel continue to be cut”.


‘Running on empty’
“Ambulance personnel are being asked to run further on less and less resources and in effect we are ‘running on empty’ in many instances,” Mr Dixon said.

“This makes the prospect of a tragedy happening where an ambulance does not reach the scene all the more likely.”

The matter came to attention on December 30th when a 70-year-old woman in Co Donegal died after being struck by a car. Her family claimed there was a 50-minute wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Separately, the HSE confirmed it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene where Wayne McQuillan (30), from Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, Co Louth, was stabbed on New Year’s Day.

He was taken to hospital in a Garda patrol car but died from his injuries.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said the National Ambulance Service director Dr Cathal O’Donnell believed the comments made by Mr Dixon were “factually incorrect, an unfortunate choice of words and inappropriate at this time”.