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Written Answers - Ambulance Service

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 48.  Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  the results of the recent ambulance response times study and future plans for the development of the ambulance service. [16204/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly In response to the publication of the HIQA Key Performance Indicators, the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) has developed a Performance Improvement Action Plan. In line with the national KPI’s published by HIQA, the NAS is working towards achieving a first response to 75% of emergency ECHO (life threatening cardiac emergency) and DELTA (life threatening non-cardiac emergency) calls within 8 minutes or less. Its performance in 2011 was 53.1% of ECHO calls and 28.45% of DELTA calls responded within the target time-frame. The response times for 2011 for patient carrying vehicles, against a target of 80% arriving on scene within 18 minutes 59 seconds, were 69.3% for ECHO calls and 66.8% for DELTA calls.

However, key to further significant progress on improving response times is the issue of using emergency ambulances for planned inter-hospital transfers. The continued use of emergency ambulances in this role clearly affects the capacity of the NAS to meet KPI targets and to respond to emergency situations.

Among the options which I am considering to free up emergency capacity is the use of an intermediate care service. Vehicles with a greater patient-carrying capacity are employed as a dedicated resource for inter-hospital transfer of patients. The reduction in control centres will allow for more of our highly trained paramedic staff to be deployed back to direct emergency response roles, allowing the service to concentrate on responding to emergency incidents. There are budgetary constraints in all areas of health provision and all services must live within those restrictions. I know that the NAS is working to deliver an optimal performance with the resources available. In this context, my department, the NAS and HIQA will review the targets set for these KPI’s in 2012, including consideration of targets used in other jurisdictions which more accurately reflect patient outcomes from pre-hospital emergency care.

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