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Revised arrangements for voluntary emergency services

The HSE emergency management division is preparing a template to apportion costs incurred by the Executive for services provided by the voluntary emergency services (VES), the Medical Independent (MI) can report.

The VES are voluntary charitable bodies who are registered with the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council. The VES have provided transportation for HSE services during recent severe weather events, such as Storm Ophelia in 2017 and Storm Emma last year.

The emergency management function is central to planning how the HSE prepares for major incidents and emergencies.

In the Emergency Management Services 2019 Operational Plan Actions report, which was recently published by the HSE, it was stated that in 2018, emergency management paid contributions of €145,820 to voluntary services, which were deployed during Storm Emma.

In the report, the issue was mentioned under ‘Financial challenges/key risks’. “The emergency management function no longer has any contingency budget to deal with unplanned costs arising as a result of major incidents,” according to the report.

The report said the issue was being reviewed by the National Director, National Services, and it is likely that revised arrangements for allocating costs associated with the use of voluntary emergency services will be introduced.

“The template on the future apportionment of costs incurred will go to the HSE senior operations team for approval, once it has been finalised,” a spokesperson for the HSE told MI.

The budgetary allocation for 2019 will be regularly monitored and tight financial controls as per the National Financial Regulations will be adhered to, so as to remain within the budgetary allocation, according to the operational plan budget.

“Pay ceilings will be monitored and adhered to. Any opportunities for EM [emergency management] cost reduction and value improvement will be explored and implemented in line with the relevant themes of the Value Improvement Programme and direction from the HSE leadership team.”

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