The National Ambulance Service has told cash-strapped air ambulance charity chiefs to cut their costs if they want the service to survive.
Health Minister Simon Harris recently told the NAS to save the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) service.
NAS has refused to give the vital Cork-based service more cash but it is now looking at ways the charity could slash its budget.
A Department of Health spokesperson told the Irish Examiner: “The NAS is engaging with the ICRR to review current operational processes and procedures with a view to highlighting areas that may yield potential cost-saving initiatives.”
After a fundraising campaign that raised a fraction of its €400,000 target, the service now says it can only survive for another six weeks.
It had said it would ground it by today but enough funds were raised over the past two weeks for it to carry on for a few more weeks.
Although NAS provides medical staff and coordinates the taskings, the charity needs €2 million-a-year to fund the helicopters, pilots, fuel and its airbase.
But the funds ran low and the charity has struggled to get the public to donate money to pay for the service.
By yesterday afternoon, it had only managed to raise €35,513 of the €400,000 target the charity set for itself.
Of that, €16,623 was raised via a GoFundMe page. NAS was keen to point out that it doesn’t just rely on the ICRR for emergency air support for its 999 ground fleet.
“It is important to note NAS continues to provide its ground service of emergency ambulance and air assets available (Air Corps, Irish Coast Guard, ICRR) are an additional resource to the ground service,” a spokesperson said.
Earlier in the month, the Irish Examiner revealed Health Minister Simon Harris had told the HSE to save the Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance.
It was the first indication the State might bail the charity out since the ICRR warned last December it would ground the service if it didn’t get a large injection of cash.