Intervention needed to avert ambulance strike – Smyth

NIAMH PROFILEFianna Fáil TD for Cavan Monaghan Niamh Smyth has said that the Minister for Health or the HSE must intervene to avert tomorrow’s ambulance strike.

“I understand that some 500 members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) are set to strike tomorrow.  If it goes ahead, one quarter of all ambulance personnel will not be available for a twenty four hour period”, said Deputy Smyth.

“This dispute is related to a union recognition issue. NASRA are affiliated to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) and they have sought to have the dispute referred to the Workplace Relations Commission. However it seems that the HSE is refusing to engage. I have raised on numerous occasions the need for investment in our ambulance service in Cavan and Monaghan. There are not enough ambulances on the road. Families have contacted me about their cases and how outcomes might have been different if ambulance staff were given additional resources.”

Just over 8 weeks ago, new information released to Deputy Smyth revealed that there are only 4 ambulances available across Cavan and Monaghan on Saturdays, compared to 9 ambulances or care vehicles during the week.  Six vehicles are available on Sundays.  This leaves large parts of Cavan and Monaghan without adequate cover.

“While I recognise the fact that services are reduced at the weekend, I am very worried about the provision for Saturdays.  There are only 2 ambulances available at the two stations in Cavan and Monaghan.  None are available in Virginia or Castleblayney.  The intermediate care vehicle in Castleblayney is also unavailable at the weekends”, said Deputy Smyth.

The data also found that 40% of DELTA (life threatening other than cardiac/respiratory arrest) call outs are not meeting the 19 minute response times.

“The Government’s failure to find solutions to these issues, or to even engage with unions has led us to this action.  At such a difficult time of year the HSE should at the very least meet NASRA and the PNA. The HSE is only compounding the pressure on its own services by not discussing the matter. All sides need to engage and work together to reach a solution.

“It is important that Minister Harris confirms that there are contingency plans in place to ensure that all ambulance calls are responded to in adequate time. While it has been common practice not to engage with unions that are not recognised, plans still have to be put in place to protect the public,” concluded Smyth


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