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NAS misses replacement deadline

As revealed by the Medical Independent (MI) earlier this year, the HSE had committed to replacing these vehicles by the end of July.

The NAS confirmed there are currently 27 emergency ambulances across the country over seven years old. A HSE spokesperson confirmed to MI that the end of July deadline had been missed, but said it  is now hoped these ambulances will be decommissioned by the end of this year.

“There is currently a progressive fleet replacement programme being rolled-out in the NAS. The objective of this programme is to have any vehicles of seven years or older decommissioned by the end of 2016. To date in 2016, 53 new emergency ambulances have been commissioned into service, with a roll-out of a further 32 new emergency ambulances by the end of Q4 2016,” the spokesperson told MI.

The HSE insisted its current ambulance fleet is safe and that the NAS “has a robust service and maintenance programme in place for all vehicles, in line with the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations”.

“All vehicles are compliant with current Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing legislation.”

Under the NAS fleet replacement policy for 2016, more than €18 million is to be used to purchase 50 new ambulances and refurbish 35 more. The NAS has 264 emergency ambulances in service, with a total fleet of 496 resources.

Meanwhile, a study into extending the operations of the national air ambulance service has yet to be even started.

The Programme for Government committed to the expansion of the service and its possible extension to night-time flying.

“A feasibility study will be carried out to explore how this might be achieved, who might provide it and the potential cost. This shall include consideration of a second base,” the document stated.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed that this study “has yet to be undertaken”.

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