AMBULANCES are failing to meet recommended response time for one out of every four life-threatening 999 calls, new figures reveal.
The ambulances should be at the scene within 19 minutes, according to target times set by the patient safety body, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
However, data obtained by Independent TD Denis Naughton shows the failure to respond on time is a problem not just in rural but also urban areas.
An ambulance should be at the scene of a life-threatening call within 19 minutes in 85pc of cases- but this was only managed 65pc of the time.
Mr Naughton said the first regional breakdown shows that “in counties Roscommon, Mayo and Galway just one in every two ambulances arrive within 19 minutes”.
“However, it is not just rural areas. In Dublin City just two out of every three ambulances arrive within 19 minutes,” he said.
“The fact that Dublin city has a poorer record than some more rural areas, such as the Mid-West of the country, clearly highlights the fact that the ambulance system is just not working.
“Yet despite this, it seems that HIQA is not in a position to do anything about it.
“While HIQA is setting standards it has no role in reviewing or investigating the service.
“It seems bizarre that HIQA can say that a service is a hospital is unsafe but yet has no control over the replacement ambulance service.”
Every year 3,000-5,000 people die from heart attacks and the survival rate for someone who has a heart attack outside of hospital is just one in 15.
Annually about 10,000 people suffer a stroke and about 2,000 die each year and again access to hospital treatment is the difference between being able to walk out of hospital or not.
He warned: “The fact is that delays in responding to life-threatening 999 calls and further delays in getting to hospital puts patients at a far higher risk of dying or having serious long term complications on foot of delayed treatments.”