Ambulance staff slam use of care vehicles

Ambulance personnel claim the Health Services Executive is using intermediate care vehicles (ICVs) to carry out duties they are prohibited from doing to make up for a reduction in the ambulance fleet due to an overtime ban.

According to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), these vehicles are responding to delta calls (potentially life threatening) which the union says they are “not equipped for”.

The union says ICVs are operated by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who are not equipped to respond to delta calls.

The Irish Examiner asked the HSE to explain what the current situation is in regard to ICVs, but it failed to respond.

The reduction in the ambulance fleet is a result of a row between the PNA and the HSE.

The row centres on the HSE’s refusal to negotiate with Nasra (the National Ambulance Representative Association), a branch of the PNA which represents about 500 ambulance personnel.

As a result, Nasra members have withdrawn from overtime.

The HSE said last night that it “can confirm there was no interruption in service delivery in the Cork area on November 7 and currently have no disruption to service [yesterday]”.

However, member feedback to the PNA shows some areas are being left without ambulance cover, or without rapid response vehicles (RRVs), as crews are shuffled around to try and avoid disruption to the service.

    According to the PNA, among the actions taken by the HSE are:

  • Redeployment of EMT crew from the weekend to Cork on Wednesday to bring ambulance numbers up;
  • ICV ambulances put on Delta calls in Cork, although they are not equipped for these calls;
  • Thurles ambulance in Cork for most of yesterday to give cover;
  • No RRV in Nenagh on Wednesday night;
  • No ambulance in Mallow on Wednesday night;
  • No RRV in Midleton on Wednesday night.

In relation to the situation yesterday, the PNA said that at one stage, just four out of seven ambulances were on the road in Cork City.

This article was edited on Nov 9.

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