Hospitals struggle to meet ambulance turnaround times - Murphy

Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, says Minister for Health Simon Harris must address missed ambulance targets.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that the overwhelming majority of hospitals are continuing to miss the 20-minute turnaround time for ambulance callouts at emergency departments, with Portiuncula, University Hospital Galway, and Sligo among some of the worst turnaround rates in the country.

"It's a matter of grave concern that our major hospitals are failing to meet importance ambulance target times," Deputy Murphy said. "This speaks volumes about the management of our health service and has serious consequences for patients. Just five hospitals met the 20-minute target and that was only in half of all callouts.

"None of the other 31 hospitals had a success rate of more than 49 per cent for the 20-minute turnaround. Clearly these figures are symptomatic of wider problems in our hospitals."

Deputy Murphy added that Portiuncula only met the 20-minute ambulance turnaround target on 21 per cent of its runs.

Of 21,043 ambulance hospital attendances in January, just 6,102 or 29 per cent complied with the 20-minute timeframe. Some 1,529 ambulance discharges took an hour to two hours. Around one in seven calls in Sligo fell into this category with 109 waiting more than an hour. Indeed, a further 11 calls at Sligo took over two hours.

"Unfortunately, these delays were not out of the ordinary," Deputy Murphy said. "The stats reveal that in January, 109 ambulances nationwide were delayed at hospitals for two to three hours, 17 were held up for three to four hours, four were stuck for four to five hours, and one was caught up for more than five hours.

"Missing turnaround targets has further consequences of course for the ambulance service as it makes it harder to respond to new callouts in the target time if paramedics are delayed at hospitals.

"This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency and I am calling on Minister Harris to meet with the relevant agencies to discuss the issue without delay and come up with a plan of action to tackle this extremely worrying situation."

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