Ambulance crews experiencing three-and-a-half hour delays in Waterford

unite-white-out-of-redDungarvan-based ambulances responding to Midleton calls

Unite warned of crisis a year ago

January 5th: Unite said today that Dungarvan-based ambulance crews are being delayed for up to three-and-a-half hours during shift and three hours after shift, putting pressure on the service throughout the South-East.  In addition, in order to comply with HIQA response times, crews from the Waterford area are being sent to Cork and vice-versa, reducing the number of vehicles available to respond to calls locally.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Tony Kelly said:

“One year ago, in January 2016, Unite wrote to management outlining our concerns and proposing a mechanism that could be used to alleviate pressures on the ambulance service and staff.  However, those concerns were not addressed and our members took industrial action last April.  We put forward a comprehensive plan to resolve these issues which has still not been fully accepted.  The crisis currently being experienced in the South-East and throughout the country was both predictable and preventable.

“In recent days we have seen ambulance crews delayed for up to three-and-a-half hours during shifts and three hours after a shift.  The result is that patients are left in the cramped space of an ambulance triage corridor as crews wait to hand them over, while elsewhere patients are left waiting for an ambulance to respond to their emergency.

“At the same time, the need to comply with HIQA response times means that Dungarvan-based ambulances are responding to calls from Midleton and Youghal and being delayed in Cork University Hospital, while Midleton-based ambulances respond to calls from Dungarvan and find themselves delayed in Waterford University Hospital.  The result is a reduction in the number of vehicles available to respond to calls locally.

“These delays and bottlenecks are impact not only on patient care, but also on the wellbeing of the ambulance crews providing that care.  The shift overruns have a significant impact on family and personal life.  At the same time, the delays in handing over patients while other emergency calls are waiting for response increases the stress for our members who are committed to providing the highest standards of service and care

“Although these pressures are always present, they are exacerbated during the winter with patients suffering from flu, chest infections and pneumonia. A year ago, Unite proposed a mechanism to alleviate pressures on the ambulance service and staff, and warned of the bottlenecks we’d be facing unless these issues were addressed.  Management needs to move now to ensure that we do not face the same issues again next January”, Tony Kelly concluded.

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