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Urgent call to tackle ambulance shortage

THE failings in the HSE ambulance service have been laid bare in a report submitted to the State spending watchdog.

In one case last month, a paramedic was forced to accompany a patient to hospital in a taxi followed by a fire engine as no ambulance was available.

Almost a year after the HSE admitted that its ambulance service in the capital is "incredibly dysfunctional", the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has outlined a further litany of failings in the provision of ambulance cover during the recent Big Freeze and Christmas holiday period.

In a report submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week, the IFESA urges the committee to recommend that the ambulance services provided by Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) and the HSE should be merged into a single new authority providing services for Dublin city and county.

The report also revealed that two children and two adults injured in a road traffic accident on Constitution Hill in Co Dublin on Christmas Eve were forced to wait 45 minutes "in freezing conditions" before a HSE ambulance was available to take them to hospital.

It also revealed that no HSE ambulances were available to respond to 10 emergency calls on November 28.

The same issues were raised at the PAC last March by Labour TD Tommy Broughan who labelled the HSE's provision of service in the greater Dublin area as "incredibly dysfunctional".

An HSE spokeswoman last night said it has not received the report and "could not accept the validity or accuracy of this information without external validation".

Irish Independent