Many towns going without adequate ambulance cover, union claims

By Joe Leogue

The HSE has been accused of putting together a ‘patchwork of vehicles’ in order to provide ambulance services across the country, with many towns going without adequate cover, according to a union.

However, the HSE denies there has been any disruption to its services, despite industrial action taken in protest at the HSE’s decision not to negotiate with the Psychiatric Nurses Association on behalf of ambulance personnel who want to be represented by the union.

The PNA claims there has been ”significant disruption to ambulance services throughout the country” as a result of the impasse, and the HSE’s refusal to make payroll deductions of union subscriptions for PNA ambulance personnel members.

The union has said its members’ refusal to work overtime as part of this action leaves the ambulance service “stretched to the limit” due to the absence of overtime from PNA members.

    It claims that:

  • On Thursday there were no ambulances in Clonakilty, Midleton, and Millstreet, County Cork; Ardee, County Louth; or Tullamore, County Offaly.
  • only four of four out of seven ambulances were on the road in Cork City and only one of two ambulances operational in Dublin South Central on Thursday.
  • yesterday morning there were no ambulances in Dunmanway and Fermoy, County Cork; or Drogheda, County Louth, that one ambulance was not operational in Cork; that Rapid Response Vehicles in Dunmanway and Nenagh, County Tipperary were not operational and that one of the two ambulances in Ennis was not available.

PNA general secretary, Peter Hughes, called on Health Minister Simon Harris to instruct the HSE to recognise the union and avert the overtime strike by its members: “The HSE has been putting a patchwork of vehicles and crews together to cover major gaps in rosters as a result of the overtime ban."

However, a spokesperson for the HSE said there has been no disruption of services to date and that the closest available ambulance will be dispatched to an emergency call: “We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely on an ongoing basis. The NAS operates on a national and area basis as opposed to a local basis.

Resources are dispatched on a closest available basis, regardless of county or other geographical location.

Meanwhile, Friday’s Irish Examiner stated that the PNA had said emergency medical technicians in intermediate care vehicles (ICVs) were not qualified to respond to delta calls. The union had actually said EMTs in ICVs were not equipped to respond to such calls.

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