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'People will die if fire brigade lose control of city ambulances'

Emergency workers are claiming that patients' lives will be put at risk if Dublin's fire service is privatised.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said the removal of ambulance services provided by Dublin fire brigade could result in people dying.

IFESA national secretary John Kidd said the services review by Dublin City Council is of huge concern to them, as City Manager Owen Keegan has a "reputation" for privatising public services.

Mr Kidd also said he was concerned that no fire service members were on the HSE review panel.

"It is extremely worrying," he said, "especially when we know that 40pc of all emergency calls in Ireland for ambulances are responded to by Dublin Fire Brigade firefighter paramedics in emergency ambulances."

Mr Kidd said that despite the existence of a number of reports into the fire and ambulance service, Mr Keegan is determined "to proceed with a further review, despite calls from some councillors to postpone this pointless and expensive exercise".

He added: "Given the Dublin City Manager's record on privatising public services, we would be very concerned that the DCC review that is under way will result in a serious reduction in the level of services provided to the citizens of Dublin."

PREMATURE

The HSE pays Dublin City Council €9m a year to run the fire service on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities.

Last year, the HSE was reported to be considering the phasing-out of fire brigade ambulances in order to save money, as firefighters are paid more than HSE ambulance staff.

In response to IFESA's remarks, a spokesman for Dublin City Council told the Herald: "It is entirely premature to pre-empt the outcome of the review at this stage.

"The Health Service Executive and Dublin City Council agreed to commission the joint review of all aspects of the emergency ambulance service operated by Dublin Fire Brigade in the Dublin city and county area."

The review will be conducted by Derek Brady, former deputy city manager with Dublin City Council and county manager at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council, and Martin Flaherty, the managing director of the Association of UK Ambulance Chief Executives in London.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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