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Dublin ambulance service has “significant shortcomings” finds HIQA

Today HIQA published a review of progress in implementing the recommendations of HIQA’s 2014 review of pre-hospital emergency care services.

“In Dublin, it was clear to the HIQA review team that significant shortcomings remain that put patients at risk,” said Mr Sean Egan, HIQA’s Acting Head of Healthcare Regulation.

“While lines of communication, formal governance arrangements and working relationship at senior management level within the HSE and Dublin City Council were much improved, a detailed plan for the delivery of emergency ambulance services in the greater Dublin area still does not exist.

“Furthermore,” said Mr Egan “As things stand, if a patient with a potentially life threatening condition in Dublin calls 112/999 for an ambulance, current arrangements for call handling and dispatch can result in a delay in response due to the process for transferring calls from Dublin Fire Brigade to the National Ambulance Service.

“Alternatively, a Dublin Fire Brigade Resource may continue to be dispatched to such a call in a situation where a nearer National Ambulance Service resource may have been available and better placed to respond.”

Overall the HIQA review found that more needs to be done to ensure that a modern, effective emergency ambulance service is provided by Ireland’s two publicly funded services: the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade.

“The status quo puts patients at risk and cannot be allowed to continue,” said Mr Egan referring to the Dublin services. “It is, therefore, incumbent on those with overall governance responsibility for publicly-funded ambulance services in Ireland to ensure that there is a clear plan for the future of services in Dublin that is based on ensuring the safest and best possible service for patients.”

In response the HSE said that it and the National Ambulance Service (NAS) appreciate HIQA’s acknowledgement “that significant changes have occurred to address the recommendations outlined in the 2014 report.”

“The HSE and NAS are continuing to work with Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade to address the issues identified by the HIQA report, such as call taking and dispatch in the Dublin area,” the Executive said in its statement.

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