Inadequate equipment leading to growing waiting lists, say consultants
Siptu says investment in ambulance service must be prioritised following HSE report
Siptu division organiser Paul Bell: “It is clear that substantial capital investment is urgently required for the construction and refurbishment of existing ambulance bases.” Photograph: Eric Luke
Inadequate and antiquated equipment is one of the critical factors contributing to growing waiting lists and the cancellation of elective surgeries, hospital consultants have said.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said acute hospitals simply did not not have the infrastructure, in terms of equipment and bed capacity, to treat the number of patients requiring medical and surgical care.
IHCA president Dr Tom Ryan said: “In effect our acute hospital infrastructure is crumbling due to the lack of investment over the last decade. This is forcing hospitals to ration the delivery of healthcare to patients on a daily basis.”
Dr Ryan was speaking after The Irish Times reported on Thursday that confidential internal assessment drawn up by the HSE showed there is a backlog of about 9,000 pieces of aged and “at risk” critical equipment.
The HSE has estimated the bill for replacing this equipment would be €322 million.
“These items represent a risk to the HSE’s capability to provide a continuous level of safe care and to provide a high quality service to the Irish population,” the HSE report said.
The HSE document also estimated that €277 million in capital funding was needed by the National Ambulance Service.
It said €109 million is required for investment in ambulance stations.
“Of the 96 locations, 21 are deemed fit for purpose, 54 require replacement and the remainder require refurbishment and/or extension. Recently completed facilities include Tuam, Carnew, Kenmare, Wicklow and Swords. It is clear, however, that the existing estate has suffered from a lack of investment and a low maintenance budget for some time,” it said.
“There is are concerns about health and safety issues in some locations, and many are overcrowded because of increased staffing levels. It is recognised that some of the existing ambulance stations are in the wrong place to maximise response times,” the HSE report stated.
Siptu said the Government must prioritise the recommendations in relation to investment in ambulance service.
Siptu division organiser Paul Bell said: “It is clear that substantial capital investment is urgently required for the construction and refurbishment of existing ambulance bases throughout the country to make them fit for purpose. There is also a need for the immediate creation of strategic ambulance deployment points that will better serve the public.
“The HSE has identified that an additional 77 emergency vehicles are required for the service. Siptu ambulance professionals, who have long campaigned for adequate resources to be made available to ensure their facilities meet the highest international standards, are calling on the Government to implement the recommendations of this important submission.”