Responding to RTE’s Prime Time Investigates programme on ambulance services, Martin Ferris, TD for Kerry North and West Limerick, said:
“I didn’t need a Prime Time programme to tell me that the ambulance service is understaffed, under pressure and unable to provide adequate services, however I congratulate the programme-makers for highlighting this crisis.
“Some of my own constituents have suffered as a consequence of this situation. I am not surprised that Prime Time Investigates has found that only one in every three people with life-threatening conditions were responded to by an ambulance service within the target time last year.
“The plain truth of it is: we don’t have enough vehicles or enough trained staff to provide a proper emergency service. A glance at the figures, compared, for example with the North, shows this.
“In the North there are 57 ambulances for six counties, in the South there are only 87 ambulances for the entire 26 counties.
“The centralisation of the call-out services has proven a disaster. Many people’s lives have been placed in danger by sending ambulances not alone to the wrong area but to the wrong county.
“I have nothing but admiration for the people who are trying with dedication and diligence to work within this under-resourced service.
“The response time targets are not being met because of a lack of staff, inadequate infrastructure and insufficient funding. The Minister for Health must act to ensure that proper resources are dedicated to providing a safe service all over the state. This is, in reality, a matter of life and death.”