Concern over ambulance drugs


AN INSTRUCTION telling ambulance crews not to carry potentially life-saving medicines has caused concern among GPs.

An internal memo from an HSE medical director in charge of the ambulance services, Dr Cathal O’Donnell, said that so-called “doctor drug bags” should no longer be carried by vehicles in the National Ambulance Service.

The memo said the rationale for carrying such medicine bags “was to enable a physician to administer drugs in circumstances where no advanced paramedic was available and a doctor was present at the call but without his/her own supply of drugs”.

Dr O’Donnell said that because of the increased availability of paramedics “coupled with increased availability of GPs through out-of-hours co-ops, with a comprehensive medication supply, this practice is no longer required”.

He added that National Ambulance Service vehicles should only carry medication within the scope of the practice of a vehicle’s crew. But GPs have voiced concern at the ruling.

In a letter in today’s Irish Times, Dr Seamus Clarke of Clones, Co Monaghan, said “withdrawing potential life-saving medicines is regrettable”.

He said the instruction assumes that GPs normally carry the drugs associated with an emergency service. But he argues neither GPs nor out-of-hours co-ops are emergency services and has called on the HSE to consult with GPs before such decisions are taken.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said a comment on the issue was not immediately available but a response would be forthcoming.