Ambulance Service in Ireland - Chris Mee Group | CMSE

Ambulance Service in Ireland

€15million for a minimal improvement…

A controversial report by a UK Consultancy company named Lightfoot Solutions has stated that the cost of running the Ambulance service in Ireland is significantly higher than in the UK for the following reasons:

  • Irish Ambulances bring all patients to the hospital emergency departments unlike in other countries where an initial “see & treat” approach is taken. In the UK almost 50% of patients are dealt with in this way.
  • Irish people are less than half as likely to call for an ambulance as our British Counterparts.
  • Ireland’s high rurality is also noted as a cause for high waiting times

It was noted that Ireland’s Ambulance service cannot be directly compared to the English service as even if it were fully resourced and operating to full international best practice standards it was found that the service could not achievable prescribed targets for response times.

Under these stated targets, 80% of calls dealing with Echo (potentially life-threatening) should be dealt with by a first responder within 8 minutes. Last year only 26.6% of these calls were met in the targeted times, with only 6.6% dealt with in this time when in a rural area.

40% of incidences in Ireland are based in rural areas in comparison to just 12% in England. This has “major implications” when it comes to the ability of the National Ambulance Service says Lightfoot.

Average drive times in high performing countries are around 4 minutes compared to nearly 10 minutes in urban areas of Ireland. This is thought to be because in many cases, ambulance bases are not well located.

Hiring 290 extra staff would cost around €15 million a year and would take 3 years to implement. Even spending this significant amount of money may not yield a decent improvement in outcomes for most patients, as most patients are not time-critical.

It is noted that even providing extra resources would result in minimal improvement in rural areas. 100 locations were identified in which less than 1 emergency call is made per week. In these areas a community first responder with the aid of a defibrillator is thought to be a better option.