Failure to meet ambulance turn around targets is putting lives at risk, says Murphy

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has warned that unless ambulance turnaround times improve, lives will continue to be put at risk.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil show that virtually all hospitals continue to miss the 20 minute turnaround time for the majority of ambulance calls, with University College Hospital Galway recording only a 6.7 per cent success rate while Portiuncula had just a 12.7 per cent success rate. The figures were for May 2017.

Dep Murphy said: “Only one in four hospitals managed to meet the 20 minute turnaround target for ambulances. Of the 21,373 visits by ambulances to our hospitals, just 5,377 were completed within the required 20 minute deadline.

“Twenty one per cent of all ambulances visits to University Hospital Galway take longer than 60 minutes,” he added. “This is something that isn’t sustainable, and must be addressed. Only 6.7 per cent of all ambulances at UCHG are cleared in 20 minutes or less, while in Portiuncula only 12.7 per cent of ambulances are cleared within the 20 minute turnaround time.

“Figures for Sligo General Hospital indicate that over 10 per cent of ambulance visits take longer than an hour while only 13.4 per cent are cleared within the 20 minute turnaround time.

“Of course missing turnaround targets has a knock on effect for the ambulance service as it makes it harder to respond to new call outs in the target time if paramedics are delayed at hospitals.

“Unsurprisingly, many of the hospitals with low turnaround rates also experience overcrowding in their emergency departments,” Dep Murphy continued. “The delays in transferring patients are clearly not the fault of the ambulance service. Rather there are symptomatic of the ongoing difficulties in our acute hospitals.

“I am very concerned by the number of hospitals that are not only failing to meet the 20 minute deadline but are missing them by significant margins.”

Dep Murphy said that Minister Harris needed to work with the National Ambulance Service and the HSE national hospital managers to identify why these targets are not being met, and to put in place implementation and oversight mechanisms to ensure that they are met in the future.

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