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The highest expenditure has been at Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) (€589,000), followed by Sligo University Hospital (€338,431), Mayo University Hospital (€333,555), Galway University Hospitals (€272,243), Portiuncula University Hospital (€123,295) and Roscommon University Hospital (€67,897).
Minutes of an LUH executive board meeting in December 2015 noted that use of private ambulances was among the factors contributing to a projected deficit of €8.7 million at the hospital.
A spokesperson for Saolta said there remains a “consistent pattern of demand from non-emergency ambulance transport and a static capacity of NAS [National Ambulance Service] ambulances”.
The use of private ambulances “continues to contribute” to the monthly deficit at LUH, they added.
Private ambulance transport is generally used for inter-hospital transfers and admission/discharge of stretcher patients from and to community hospitals on occasions when the NAS is unable to provide the required transport.
The operational hours of NAS intermediate care vehicles (ICVs) do not facilitate LUH patients attending early-morning treatment/investigations in Dublin and Galway, such that they could return to LUH and avoid an overnight stay in the tertiary hospitals. This issue is “being reviewed” between the hospital and the NAS, according to Saolta.
Meanwhile, LUH has incurred €466,000 to June this year in taxi bills. Its total spend on taxis in 2015 was €925,000, up from €792,000 in 2014.
The taxi bill is predominantly associated with transport for patients requiring renal dialysis in LUH.