Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has submitted a series of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health on the response of the ambulance service to the recent fatal stabbing in Drogheda.
Deputy Adams said;
“This is not the first time that someone has died following an incident in which the ambulance service was unable, due to under resourcing, to be able to respond speedily to the emergency.
“Nor is it the first time that I have expressed my concern to the Minister at the inadequate level of emergency ambulance cover in the Drogheda and Louth areas.
“Last year I warned of the risks to patient safety at plans to further cut the number of ambulances available to cover Dundalk and Drogheda.
“In June 2011 a man died on the street in Drogheda while waiting for an ambulance to arrive and in January 2012 it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to a fatal accident in Drogheda’s Town centre.
“The recent death of Wayne McQuillan and the fact that the Gardaí were forced to drive him to Our Lady of Lourdes because of the length of time it was taking for an ambulance to reach him, has again focussed attention on this issue.
“I have been told by ambulance staff covering the north east region that there has been a significant cut in ambulance cover as a result of cutbacks imposed by the HSE. This has meant that fewer ambulances are now available with only one ambulance being on duty on some nights in Dundalk and one in Drogheda. Rostering arrangements and a preference to drop crews if one is off due to illness means fewer ambulances on call.
“I have submitted a series of PQs to the minister seeking information on ambulance resources in north Leinster and I intend raising this issue in the Dáil when it returns next week.
“This is about patient care. HIQA therefore needs, as a matter of urgency, to carry out a thorough investigation into the ambulance service across the state; how it is structured; response times; rostering arrangements; and consultation with staff.
“Citizens in Louth, as well as elsewhere in the state, deserve a credible and effective ambulance service and the minister has a responsibility to deliver this.
“It is unacceptable that the ambulance service of this state has to proportionally make do with fewer ambulances and staff than those provided by the health service in the north and elsewhere.”