SIPTU’s Ambulance Sector Expresses Solidarity with striking NHS ambulance crews

SIPTU’s Ambulance Sector has expressed solidary with NHS ambulance crews who are on strike today (January 11th) in the United Kingdom after talks failed to address GMB members’ concerns regarding pay.

SIPTU’s Sector Organiser for the Ambulance Sector, Ted Kenny, wrote to GMB Union Public Services National Secretary, Rachel Harrison, to advise that “we stand beside you all in your fight for an enhanced pay offer and wish you all the very best in achieving that goal.”

The letter follows a statement made by SIPTU on the challenges being faced by ambulance crews throughout the National Ambulance Service on Saturday the 7th of January. You can read that full statement here.

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.”

SIPTU expresses concern over use of new postcode system by ambulance professionals

SIPTU has urged the management of the National Ambulance Service and the Health Service Executive (HSE) not to introduce the use of the Eircode system for ambulance professionals until the new postcodes have proved to be fit for purpose.

 

SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said: “We have been contacted by many of our members who have expressed major concerns at the rollout of Eircode. Our members have stated that they will use any system as long at they can be assured that the system is fit for purpose and has the confidence of the general public.

“Despite claims that ambulance professionals should use satellite navigation systems to get to the scene of an emergency that approach has been deemed to be unreliable in the UK. In some cases its use has resulted in tragic circumstances that could have been avoided.”

He added: “Currently, there are two command and control rooms which direct ambulance personnel to the scene of an accident anywhere in the country. That is the most effective way of dealing with an accident or emergency. Addresses are based on a directory supplied by An Post, which has the most up-to-date database. I would expect that to continue until our members’ concerns are dealt with.”

 “Our members expect the managers of the National Ambulance Service and HSE to only introduce the Eircode system when it has been fully proven to be fit for purpose. We believe that this can only be after the system has proven itself to  be accurate and workable when used by other sectors prior to its introduction for use by ambulance professionals responding to emergency calls. Our members can only work with a system that they, and the general public have confidence in.”  

For video please click here

Listen to Paul discuss Eircode

 

Investment in ambulance service critical to delivery of primary care

SIPTU has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to immediately release the capacity review into the National Ambulance Service.

Speaking today at the Labour Party Conference in Killarney, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The creation of 50 paramedic positions in the West of Ireland is a step in the right direction.

“However, what is required is the publication of the capacity review of the National Ambulance Service.

“Our members are deeply concerned about the direction of the ambulance service and demanded a capacity review in February 2014. One year later we are still waiting.”

Paul Bell added: “If the National Ambulance Service is to function at the level that the HIQA is demanding, and the public and communities deserve, then the Government needs to seriously invest in recruitment and resources.

“The time has come for the Government to provide leadership and the public with confidence that the National Ambulance Service is safe, fully resourced and fit for purpose”

SIPTU calls for immediate release of HSE ambulance capacity review

SIPTU has called on the HSE to immediately release a capacity review of the National Ambulance Service that was commissioned last year following concerns raised by workers that the service is inadequately resourced.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The capacity review into the National Ambulance Service must be released immediately and discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health as a matter of priority. 

“Our members have been deeply concerned about the direction of the ambulance service and demanded a capacity review from the Government in February 2014. From the reports we have seen our concerns are completely vindicated.

“We are short 290 highly skilled ambulance professionals who are needed to give life saving treatment to sick and vulnerable citizens. This is unacceptable. Reports in the media today drawing on an independent review of the ambulance service suggest that the key performance indicators set out by HIQA in 2011 were unrealistic and flawed due to the failure to carry out a full capacity review before they were set.

Paul Bell added: “If the National Ambulance Service is to function at the level that HIQA is demanding, and the public deserve, then the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, needs to invest in recruitment, resources and conduct a review into how to develop an effective strategy for community first responses.” 

“The time has come for the Government to stop moving from one health crisis to another. It needs to provide leadership and the public with confidence that the National Ambulance Service is safe, fully resourced and fit for purpose.

HIQA report challenging but achievable

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) are studying the recommendations contained in the HIQA “Review of pre-hospital emergency care services” which they have described as “challenging but achievable”.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “In its 12 recommendations the HIQA review group brings clarity to many of the areas which our members in the National Ambulance Service have identified as a cause for concern over a long period of time. The recommendations will be challenging in both how they are applied within the ambulance service. However, there is a concern that the recommendations are made without the benefit of viewing the, as yet unpublished, national capacity review of the ambulance service commissioned by the HSE. It is also evident that the implementation of the recommendations will require a commitment from the Government for additional resources”.

He added: “Recommendation 7 requires detailed clarification as it suggests that the key performance indicators in life threatening calls must take into account the difference in ambulance response times in a urban or rural setting”.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said: “SIPTU members in the Dublin Fire Brigade refute any suggestion by HIQA that ambulance services can be substantially improved without greater funding being made available. There is information which shows the DFB Ambulance service has a very high efficiency rate. Also, we welcome the fact that the report highlights the DFB’s existing clinic audit procedures. This indicates that patient outcome will now become a key performance indicator.

“We also agree with the call for a proper Service Level Agreement for the ambulance service, which must include the provision of direct funding for the DFB Ambulance Service. In relation to the HIQA report highlighting the 14,000 queued emergency calls received by DFB in 2013, it should be noted that during times when demand outstrips ambulance capacity DFB fire appliances staffed by qualified paramedics are utilised in life threatening emergencies”.