independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

OAP left on trolley in ambulance row

AN elderly woman who had a bed waiting for her in the Bons Secours hospital in Tralee ended up on a trolley in the emergency unit of Kerry General Hospital on Saturday night because the ambulance that brought her from her home in Ballyferriter was not allowed to transport her to a private hospital.

AN elderly woman who had a bed waiting for her in the Bons Secours hospital in Tralee ended up on a trolley in the emergency unit of Kerry General Hospital on Saturday night because the ambulance that brought her from her home in Ballyferriter was not allowed to transport her to a private hospital.

Paramedic Supervisor and former Chairman of the Irish Ambulance Association Pat Hanafin told The Kerryman that he was instructed by HSE ambulance control to take the woman directly to A&E despite having received word from the woman's GP that a bed was available in the Bons in Tralee.

"It is crazy to think this woman had to spend hours on a trolley in A&E when a bed was available elsewhere," said Mr Hanafin. "For the past 30 years we have transported patients there if need be."

The Kerryman contacted the HSE about the matter and they released a statement confirming that the National Ambulance Service, when responding to emergency calls, "can only transport patients to the emergency department of the nearest appropriate public (statutorily funded) hospital".

The statement went on to say that "neither the National Ambulance Service nor the HSE have any formal arrangements, either clinically or through a service level agreement, to transport emergency patients to private hospitals".

"Private insurers have direct contractual arrangements with private ambulance service providers for the provision of transport for private patients – if a private patient requires transport, then a request should be made through the relevant private insurer," the statement said.

However, Mr Hanafin said private ambulances may not be available to transport patients, particularly in the case emergencies in remote locations as was the case in Ballyferriter which is 40 miles from Tralee.

"If someone requires acute care and an ICU bed is available in a private hospital, as of now we cannot transport them there. The whole thing is insane – private patients are tax payers too," he added.

"I genuinely believe that people's well-being are being out at risk.

"It is also putting A&E, which is already under immense strain, under additional and unnecessary pressure," he added.

Mr Hanfin said he has been in discussion with the HSE on the matter and is pushing for a reversal of the situation as a similar situation occurred with a patient from Lispole on Monday.

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