Monday 24 April 2017

Council under fire over plan for ambulance centre reform

Fire-fighter paramedic Willie Bermingham from Tallaght protesting outside City Hall Picture: Arthur Carron
Fire-fighter paramedic Willie Bermingham from Tallaght protesting outside City Hall Picture: Arthur Carron
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Unions at Dublin Fire Brigade warned they will not tolerate the emergency medical system being undermined by transfers or mergers.

Siptu and Impact vowed to defend Dublin's ambulance call and dispatch service, as the city council was accused by former environment minister Alan Kelly of having "an agenda" over the centre.

The Tipperary TD claimed the merger of the two Dublin call centres was "unwarranted" and could jeopardise lives.

Mr Kelly also said he believed the changes were being driven by an internal council agenda.

"I did not believe (in early 2016) the economies the city management said existed," he warned.

"This is an agenda of the Dublin city management. It is wrong and it needs to be stopped. The economies (claimed) do not exist."

Unions said an investment in suitable technology will allow for seamless working between the Dublin Fire Brigade call centre and the National Ambulance Service (NAS) complex, located just 12km apart.

Siptu and Impact agreed to suspend planned work stoppages for March 18 and 27 after Dublin's Lord Mayor councillor Brendan Carr personally intervened in the dispute between the unions and Dublin City Council.

Fire brigade officials had feared the Dublin centre would lose all ambulance functions to the NAS facility - amid concerns there was a historic desire by some to have all ambulance operations in Dublin transferred to the HSE.

Under the talks deal, no industrial action will be mounted by unions and Dublin City Council has agreed not to proceed with proposed changes to the Dublin Fire Brigade emergency medical service system.

The fire brigade centre, which is located at Tara Street in the city centre, covers around 90pc of the Dublin area and is staffed by 45 people.

However the NAS centre, which is located in Tallaght, covers the rest of Dublin city and the extensive county area.

Now both sides are to stage conciliation talks, held under the chairmanship of Kieran Mulvey.

Mr Mulvey, former head of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), will examine a number of options including one settlement proposal which aims to maintain both call centre operations through greater software integration.

Under a 2014 Health Information Quality Authority review, experts felt that call-taking and ambulance dispatch were not configured to offer maximum benefits and efficiency to the users of the Dublin service.

Siptu official Brendan O'Brien said members wanted the capital to continue to have an outstanding emergency medical response service.

"This dispute results from our members' total commitment to providing the best emergency services possible to the residents of Dublin," he said.

Irish Independent

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