Ambulance at risk in health funding battle

DISPUTE: Deadline looms over city cash

Kevin Doyle

A ROW between Dublin City Council and the HSE is threatening the future of ambulance services in parts of north Dublin.

Despite responding to nearly 5,000 emergency calls over the year, an ambulance based in Swords could be decommissioned in the coming weeks.

A deadline of the end of January has been set to resolve the issue, but local representatives are unsure if a compromise can be reached.


The council and health body agreed to suspend their dispute over the Christmas period to ensure that a service was available during the holidays.

However, local Fianna Fail TD Michael Kennedy told the Herald that new efforts are now needed to guarantee the continuation of a full-time service.

Generally the council provides the service, with funding being provided from the HSE, Deputy Kennedy explained. "There seems to be a dispute between the HSE and DCC over who authorised the ambulance."

In this case, Dublin City Council runs the service on behalf of the four regional authorities in the capital.

"There is a clear funding issue here and I know that Dublin City Council and the HSE disagree over how the service is to be funded. However it is important to stress that it must be funded and protected for the community," the TD said.

"Dublin City Council is mandated to operate the fire services for the Dublin region and while Fingal County Council contributes to the funding necessary for this, there is an onus on the city council and on the HSE to ensure there are appropriate ambulance services in place as well."

He said that the row has "been dragging on" but will have to reach a conclusion within four weeks.

As part of the Croke Park Agreement the council is bound to not cut services but it has already agreed a very tight budget for 2011.

He has also criticised the existing services for being "top heavy" with management.