Paramedic walkout is postponed while HSE talks continue
Published 25/10/2016 | 02:30
A planned walkout by paramedics at one of the country's busiest ambulance bases has been postponed until Friday.
A total of 15 paramedics based in Carlow claim they are working at a base that is "not fit for purpose".
The 15-year-old temporary Portakabin is located on the grounds of the old District Hospital in Carlow town, where there are up to four national ambulances based at varying times.
A leaking roof, water running into electrical sockets, power being turned off with the fuse box being padlocked, exposed insulation with mould spores and major sewerage problems are some of the issues that have not been resolved.
Paramedics also claim there is no hot running water, no heating, no fire door, nor wheelchair access, which is unacceptable under current Health and Safety guidelines.
Negotiations between National Ambulance Service management (NAS), Siptu representatives, Health and Safety Authority (HSA) officials and Health Service Executive (HSE) management are continuing.
The paramedics agreed in the early hours of yesterday to put off the walkout in a bid to solve the impasse.
The base serves a community of almost 57,000 people.
A senior paramedic source said that the Carlow-based paramedics have made complaints about their working conditions at their station for several years.
"We have had enough. All we are asking for is to be treated properly in the work place," they told the Irish Independent.
"Hopefully these negotiations will have a good ending, but we are determined that if we have to walk out and base ourselves in Kilkenny then we will."
The NAS has asked paramedics to consider another more modern Portakabin being used or temporary rooms in the old District Hospital located on the same grounds.
However, a Siptu official last night said that the last-minute offerings by the HSE and NAS management are unacceptable.
"The station, which has been in use by paramedics since the 1970s, is in dire need of improvement," the paramedic source said.
"The Portakabin, which was meant to be temporary, has been in use for 15 years, which has been steadily getting worse.
"We have been pointing out to HSE management for so long now that this situation can't continue.
"We have done our best to meet them half-way but management don't seem to be listening to us.
"All it would take is a mere €10,000 to bring the base up to an acceptable standard."
The HSE says it plans to replace the prefab with another but it has not given a timeline.