Union begins balloting ambulance staff on strike action

Minister for Health Simon Harris urged to publish report on performance of service

Unions representing ambulance staff have called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately publish a report into the performance of the National Ambulance Service.

Siptu has also told Mr Harris it has begun balloting members of its ambulance professionals sector on industrial action over the failure to publish the consultancy report.

The service needs up to 750 additional staff and 250 ambulances to improve its response times to emergency calls, according to details of the report published in The Irish Times yesterday.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said members were concerned by media reports on the recommendations of the report and were demanding clarity on the number of additional staff required.

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The National Ambulance Service Representative Association said the review confirmed its findings last year that the response time targets were impossible to meet and were exposing the public to danger.

Association chairman Michael Dixon said the main finding that the service "cannot possibly" achieve prescribed targets for response times, even if it were fully resourced and operating to international best practice standards, was particularly disturbing.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.