Proposed change to Emergency services will have serious implications for Fingal – Murphy

February 8, 2017 0

The HSE has drawn up a comprehensive plan to take control of Dublin’s ambulance service away from Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), which has provided the services since 1898. The plan was drawn up ahead of last month’s announcement of a HSE/city council review of Dublin’s ambulance services.

Cllr Tony Murphy

Cllr Tony Murphy

Murphy said “There are serious implications for Balbriggan, Skerries Rush and Lusk and the greater North Fingal area if this plan is implemented. Not to allow the Fire Brigade with trained paramedics attend medical emergencies when the is no local ambulance service available beggars belief. The nearest ambulance service available is based in Swords. I will be supporting any initiative taken to try and overturn this decision and  if anything we need an increased service in the north Fingal area due to the population increase over the last ten years..”

Details of the plan

The confidential internal HSE plan says that, in the absence of a formal service-level agreement between the HSE and the council for the capital’s ambulances, the HSE“is constrained in its plans to develop an integrated National Ambulance Service” and has “inadequate control” over both the €10 million transferred to DFB/city council towards the ambulance service annually and the quality of services. “Given the above deficits [Dublin’s ambulances]… should now be provided directly by the HSE.

“The revised arrangements would be phased in with a target of being fully operational by the end of 2015,” says the document, signed by HSE national director Laverne McGuinness and the then director of the National Ambulance Service, Robert Morton.

Incremental withdrawal

The document says the HSE should “incrementally withdraw funding” from DFB and “this approach is best placed to reduce public and political anxiety” about the change.

The revelations will heighten concerns the HSE/city council review of Dublin ambulance services is a precursor to the removal of the service from the fire brigade. It is due to be finished by May.

Dublin’s emergency ambulances are provided mainly by DFB while outside the capital ambulances are provided by the HSE which contributes €9.4 million a year towards the estimated €11 million cost of Dublin’s ambulances, from a national ambulance budget of €134 million. DFB responds to 28 per cent of emergency ambulance calls nationally.*

Documents released by the council to The Irish Times indicate the plans were taking shape at implementation level.