Garda probe into claims of drug use by paramedics

Gardaí have been called in by the HSE to investigate claims of illegal drug use by ambulance personnel.

The allegation centres on paramedics working out of a National Ambulance Service base in Dublin.

HSE management went to gardaí after concerns were reported to them about the movements of an ambulance and activities by staff.

A number of workers are on paid leave from the service pending completion of the probe, which it is understood formally commenced in the last week.

The HSE is also carrying out its own internal investigation into the matter but has not commented on it.

A Garda statement said an investigation had commenced under the direction of Chief Superintendent Pat Clavin at Blanchardstown.

“A number of matters were reported by the management of the National Ambulance Service to gardaí in Blanchardstown,” it said.

“As the investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

It is understood the staff members taken off the roster are on protective leave, which is standard HSE policy in relation to serious allegations or incidents.

It is not meant as a disciplinary measure or to imply guilt, but is used only in exceptional circumstances when a staff member cannot be assigned temporary alternative duties or where it is not considered sufficient to allow them to continue working under supervision.

The National Ambulance Service was formed 10 years ago with the amalgamation of the eight regional ambulance services and it employs around 1,300 paramedics and other staff.

It provides a 24-hour emergency service and a recently-published review showed it handled around 480 emergency calls to the 999 service per day, in addition to a substantial number of calls from GPs and routine patient transfer journeys.

In Dublin, it serves mainly the county areas, while the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service primarily covers the city, but the two do cross over at times.

A National Ambulance Service Representative Association spokesperson said no member had sought the association’s involvement in the matter and that NASRA did not represent all ambulance staff, but a “significant” number.

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