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Union says paramedics at ‘breaking point’ as result of pressure on Ambulance Service

The warning came after a week which saw the number of people waiting on a hospital bed hit a record high

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Eimear RabbittSunday World

Paramedics are at “breaking point” as a result of mounting pressure on the National Ambulance Service, Ireland’s largest trade union has said.

They say the increase in people attending emergency departments across the country “has severely impacted turn-around times, with crews having to wait hours on end to hand over their patients”.

The warning came after a week which saw the number of people waiting on a hospital bed hit a record high, with 931 patients across the country lying on trolleys on Tuesday.

This is the highest number of patients that have been without a bed since the trade union began counting trolleys in 2006.

In a statement last night, SIPTU Sector Organiser, Ted Kenny, said: “The upsurge in demand on the NAS is pushing many of its paramedics to breaking point. The increased numbers attending Accident and Emergency Departments across the country has severely impacted turn-around times, with crews having to wait hours on end to hand over their patients.

“Some paramedics have reported working several hours beyond the end of their 12-hour shifts which is leading to burnout. In addition to this, they are now being requested to work additional hours to assist with the current upsurge of activity being reported across the health service.

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“SIPTU representatives have been engaging with the management of the NAS on a number of outstanding issues at the organisation including the implementation of an Independent Review of Roles and Responsibilities Report, staffing concerns and the appropriate funding of the service.

“The NAS has been under funded for years and needs at least an extra 2000 staff along with 120 new ambulances to provide the level of service that is now needed.

“The Independent Review of Roles and Responsibilities Report was jointly commissioned by the NAS, SIPTU and the HSE in 2018. The report made several recommendations to address recruitment and retention issues within the service, to identify career pathways for staff and to update the roles and responsibilities of all grades within the service. To date, the recommendations of the report has not been implemented.”

He added: “An appropriately staffed and funded NAS that can retain its dedicated workforce, would be of huge benefit to the communities it serves as well as the acute hospital sector which has seen a huge increase in activity in recent weeks.

“We are calling on the Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly, to intervene to ensure the recommendations of the Independent Review of Roles and Responsibilities Report are implemented as a matter of urgency.”

Despite trolley figures dropping for the third day in a row to 535 on Friday, health officials are warning that flu cases are expected to rise in the next three weeks, with an increase in hospitalisations likely.

Earlier this week, a campaigner told the Sunday World how up to to 13 ambulances were facing a 24-hour wait outside University Hospital Limerick (UHL) with only the most urgent cases being admitted.


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