Responding to tonight’s Prime Time investigation which reveals the extent of the crisis in the ambulance service, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (who has been given an advanced viewing of the programme) described the state of the ambulance service as “scandalous and dangerous and requires immediate action from Health Minister James Reilly”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Prime Time investigation reveals the true extent of the crisis in our ambulance service as the system tries to cope with far too few ambulances and too few staff. This is costing lives and it is a direct result of the cutbacks imposed by the current Government and its predecessors. I commend the whistle-blowers within the service who have come forward to speak out.
“The crisis is compounded by what can only be described as disgraceful HSE management practices.
“It is a scandal that expensive and fully equipped rapid response vehicles are being used essentially as private cars by managers.
“It beggars belief that, to give just one example, a manager based in the Phoenix Park in Dublin is allowed to take a rapid response vehicle home to Donegal for it to lie idle there. The programme gives other such examples, including vehicles from across the State parked at HSE premises in Naas while managers attend a HSE meeting.
“These rapid response vehicles should be available at all times and within the areas of the country they are tasked with serving. They are supposed to be available to save lives not to act as company cars for managers with fuel paid for by the taxpayer.
“The state of the ambulance service is scandalous and dangerous and requires immediate action from Health Minister James Reilly.
“Clearly current HSE management is unfit to run the service and must be replaced by a proper ambulance authority. Minister Reilly and his colleagues in government must make funding available to provide sufficient trained personnel and infrastructure, including more ambulances, to ensure a safe service throughout the State.”