Call for additional ambulance crews in Donegal

THE government has been urged to provide at least three additional ambulances and crews in Donegal to prevent a worsening of the ‘crisis’ within the service.

Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle has called for extra crews to be installed at Killybegs station, Inishowen and in either Ballybofey or Lettekenny.

Speaking in the Dail he said, “Killybegs definitely needs another crew on duty because a call out to Glencolmcille can barely meet the call-out requirements when there is a crew based in Killybegs, never mind if that crew is covering Donegal Town and based there, which often happens.


“And there is a need for an extra crew in Inishowen and an extra crew in either Letterkenny or Ballybofey as well.

“The queuing of ambulances at Letterkenny University Hospital is continuing but now the ambulance service has employed a person to try and move them on.

“The reality is that the hospital is unable to take patients quickly enough and that is what is impacting on the delays of ambulances at the hospital.

“Spending the cost of another officer won’t solve the situation as far as I can see,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said he believes the ambulance service is in crisis and suggested that this is deliberate on behalf of the government and in preparation for privatisation.

“It is shocking when you see the workforce plan outlines that the service needs 1,300 more paramedics to meet demand by the end of 2024.

“It is rule 101 in the privatisation book that you run down services so much that citizens will accept anything as a solution and surely the private operators will do better – except they don’t, and ultimately what they do is more expensive as well.


“Some people have said that it is simply that the government are trying to live within totally unrealistic budgetary constraints that is the problem. I can’t figure out which is worse at the moment,” he said.

However, Deputy Pringle did welcome the development of the ‘community paramedic’ which diverts patients from casualty and enables many patients to remain at home by giving a higher level of care in the community.

He believes this service must be rolled out across Donegal.

“This needs to be rolled out on a service-wide basis and it would actually save money overall for the health services.

“A patient that can be treated without going to casualty is the cheapest patient in the health service. You would think that the bean-counters in the HSE and the Department of Health would at least see that,” he said.

The deputy said the Government response to the motion appears to recognise some of that, “but looking at the gobbledygook it is hard to see.

“Maybe that is part of the problem; they speak in tongues and no one understands what the intention is,” said Deputy Pringle.

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