Army fills gap over 800 times for HSE – Crowe
Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has said he is shocked at the revelation that the military ambulance at the Curragh Camp has been called out to work outside the camp more than 800 times since 2011.
Deputy Crowe, who received the information in a PQ response from the Minister for Defence this week, said it is clear that the military ambulance is now filling in the gap to make up the shortfall of Health Service Executive ambulances.
Speaking this week he said;
“While I have no objection to the military ambulance helping out in times of emergency it is clear now that it is being used on a regular basis to help fill in the gaps and make up the shortfall of HSE ambulances.
“This is particularly worrying as there is currently an embargo on the hiring of HSE staff, leaving our health services with dangerously low staffing levels and a cut in services.
“This revelation also raises the serious questions around what qualifications those operating the military ambulance actually have compared to their civilian counterparts. Are they qualified to the level of the paramedics that operate the HSE ambulances? I don’t know the answer to that but it is a legitimate question that surely arise following these latest revelations.
“I have previously raised concerns over ambulance cover in Tallaght and its hinterland when the working week for the National Ambulance Service was cut from 40 to 39 hours. The area being covered by the shrinking service is getting wider. This will inevitably impact on response times and put more and more seriously ill people at greater risk.
“The revelation that the military ambulance at the Curragh is regularly called out for jobs outside the camp graphically shows that this service is being stretched beyond the ability of the HSE.
“It is an issue that the Minister for Health James Reilly needs to urgently deal with and I will be raising this issue with him directly in the Dáil next week.”