16 August 2022
By Tom Collins
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has criticised the Government’s failure to train and retain enough paramedics to safely staff the Ambulance Service.
The TD for Cork South-Central said that ambulance response times to life-threatening callouts in the Southern Region were 30 minutes from January to June of 2022 compared to 26 minutes in 2021 and well above the 19-minute target.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“The Ambulance Service has been ran into the ground over the last ten years, and this is showing in average response times and patients’ experience.
“Ambulance emergency response times for life-threatening callouts in the Southern Region are 11 minutes above the 19-minute target.
“50% of life-threatening callouts should be responded to within 19 minutes, but across the State only 39% were in June.
“The average response time is up from last year, when it was 26 minutes.
“Emergency callouts are taking longer because the ambulance service is understaffed.
“Paramedics are burned out and exhausted. The Ambulance Service spent €18.8m on overtime in 2021, with two-thirds of paramedics working significant overtime every month.
“The Government have not been retaining or training enough paramedics.
“The Ambulance Service needs about 2,000 more paramedics in the next five years, and about half of them are needed now.
“Yet, only 32 paramedics enrolled in training in 2020, while 83 left the Ambulance Service in 2021.
“We need to increase training places for paramedics and invest in the Ambulance Service to recruit and retain paramedics.
“Sinn Féin would fund an increase in paramedicine training places by 50 next year.
“We would reduce overtime and burnout by engaging with paramedics who have left and with trade unions to support the paramedics we have.
“Our priority needs to be creating a sustainable domestic pipeline of trained paramedics to safely staff the ambulance service.”