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One in four ambulance responses not on time

WHERE you live could affect your chances of survival after a heart attack or stroke.

New figures reveal "bizarre" regional variations in ambulance response times to life-threatening calls.

The national ambulance service is failing to meet Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) response time standards for one out of every four life-threatening 999 calls by not having an ambulance at the scene within 19 minutes, according the figures.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said that in Dublin city just two out of every three ambulances arrive within 19 minutes – meaning it has a poorer record than some rural areas.

He said: "Every year, 3,000 to 5,000 people die from heart attacks and the survival rate for someone who has a heart attack outside of hospital is just one in 15.

"Annually, about 10,000 people suffer a stroke and about 2,000 die each year and again access to hospital treatment is the difference between being able to walk out of hospital or not," he said.

"The fact is that delays in responding to life-threatening 999 calls and further delays in getting to hospital puts patients at a far higher risk of dying or having serious long term complications on foot of delayed treatments," he said.



Mr Naughten said the first ever regional breakdown of the figures shows that urban centres and not just rural areas are left waiting for ambulances.

He said that the HIQA standard states that an ambulance should be at the scene of a life-threatening call – ECHO and DELTA calls – within 19 minutes in 85pc of cases.

However in reality, just 65pc of all 999 calls are meeting that response time, meaning that one in every four life-threatening call, to which HIQA standards apply, fails to comply with those standards, he said.