Cost-cutting begins at ambulance service


AMBULANCE bases in Dublin will suffer rolling closures from next month as cutbacks on the service take effect.

Ambulance service sources have confirmed that as of September 3rd next Health Service Executive ambulance bases in Dublin will close for 12 hours daily.

The first HSE station to be hit by the temporary closure will be in the Dublin suburb of Tallaght. The station will close between 7am and 7pm. The area is normally covered by two crews – one HSE ambulance and a second Dublin City Fire Brigade crew.

This will leave the local Dublin City Fire Brigade ambulance crew to cover the 70,000 population.

Management will also call on adjacent ambulance bases to cover the shortfall.

According to figures the ambulance at Tallaght ambulance base covers 370 calls a month.

The cuts are the result of a deal reached under the Croke Park agreement which saw paramedics’ weekly hours being reduced from 40 to 39.

The closure on September 3rd will be followed on September 4th by the temporary closure of Swords ambulance base and on the following day by the base at Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The closures will occur on a daily basis every week and will affect bases across Dublin city.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Billy Kelleher said the closures were an attack on front line services. “Any reductions or cuts are an attack on front line services and quite clearly there is a knowledge of the effect of this on the delivery of care.

“We need absolute clarity from the Minister on how the ambulance service will be maintained – this causes huge distress on local communities,” he said.

A statement from the HSE confirmed there was a change to ambulance service rosters but that these changes will deliver the service at “lower costs to the taxpayer”.

“The stations being referred to will be serviced by crews from adjacent locations who are being actively deployed.

“The National Ambulance Service provides a dynamic responsive service and once in a vehicle, staff are deployed as and where required,” it said.