"A colossal waste of money" is how city councillor Máiréad Farrell has described Galway University Hospital's decision to spend €3.5 million in the past eight years on hiring private ambulances. She said the money should have been used instead to buy new ambulances for the Galway hospitals (University College and Merlin Park ).
Cllr Farrell said the outsourcing of ambulance services by the HSE to private companies is further evidence of Fine Gael's drive towards the privatisation of the health services.
"Figures released to my colleague and Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly TD, have shown that the Galway University Hospital has spent €3,512,287 on private ambulances since 2011. This massive spend on hiring private ambulance services does not make financial sense or represent value for taxpayers' money.
"The HSE and University Hospital Galway should be purchasing and staffing new ambulances which would make more economic sense in the long run. It should be noted that the €44 million spent on private ambulances by the HSE [nationally] since 2011 would have bought at least 202 fully equipped emergency ambulances for the public health service."
She warned that unless University Hospital Galway invests in new ambulances the catchment area will become even more reliant on private providers.
"Last year spending on private ambulances was €511,436, in 2011 it was €139,802 - we need to fight back against the privatisation of our health service at the hands of Fine Gael. The State needs to ensure that we have a high quality, publicly owned stock of ambulances instead of putting money into the pockets of private companies which does not constitute value for money or a benefit to the taxpayer.