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Ambulance turnaround times ‘shocking’

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Ambulance turnaround times need to speed up at University Hospital Limerick, one Clare General Election candidate has stated.

Rita McInerney (FF) called for urgent action to address the speed of ambulance turnaround at UHL. Turnaround times measure the time interval from ambulance arrival at a hospital, to when the crew is ready to accept another call. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) recommends an ambulance turnaround target of 20 minutes while the HSE sets it at 30 minutes.

In 2012 HIQA said that all hospitals in Ireland should monitor the implementation of the National Ambulance Patient Handover Time in line with the National Emergency Medicine Programme which requires 95% of patients being handed over from an ambulance crew to the emergency department staff in less than 20 minutes, and where this is not met, corrective action should be taken.

New information received by Fianna Fáil shows that the HIQA 20-minute target was only met in 18.3% of cases in Limerick while the HSE 30-minute target was only met in 49% of cases in 2019.

“These figures are absolutely shocking, but what makes it worse is the fact that those figures have fallen further in the last two years, when they stood at 21.5% and 58.1% respectively. We are seeing a drop of almost 10% in the HSE target in a two year period, despite the fact that the HSE budget has never been as big,” McInerney told The Clare Echo.

Rita added, “It’s another vicious cycle; and is a direct result of overcrowding at the hospital. Yesterday, Limerick saw another record broken – there were 85 people on trolleys; that’s the most ever in any one day in a single hospital. The situation is completely out of control and the Minister has failed to bring forward any solutions. If ambulance response times continue to worsen, people in emergencies and in urgent need of an ambulance are going to find themselves in a very dangerous situation”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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