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SIPTU says National Ambulance Service crisis has paramedics at ‘breaking point’

SIPTU representatives have raised concerns about the challenges facing its members employed in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) due to an increase in demand for its services that has pushed many paramedics to “breaking point”.

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.

“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.”

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