Report warns of urgent need to recruit ambulance staff

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) urgently needs to hire additional employees, according to an unpublished Health Service Executive staffing plan (NAS).

The report warns that based on current modelling, compliance with a target to respond within 19 minutes to life-threatening cases other than cardiac or respiratory arrest would be “considerably less than 40 percent” by 2027.

Recruitment is currently proving problematic for the NAS, with the workforce plan concluding that the pandemic has led to a “shift in priorities” and contributed to the “great resignation of healthcare workers”.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Questions provided to Sinn Féin show a fall in average response times during the first six months of 2022, compared with the first six months of last year.

According to the data, more than 50% of so-called Delta calls, which are life-threatening but non-cardiac-related emergencies, were responded to within 19 minutes last year.

However, this fell to 42% for the first six months of this year.

While Echo calls, which are cardiac and respiratory-related emergencies, were responded to within 19 minutes 79% of the time in the first six months of last year, that fell to 72% in the first half of 2022.

Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) guidelines state that Delta calls must be answered within 19 minutes 50% of the time and Echo calls within that period 80% of the time.

David Cullinane, the health spokesperson for Sinn Féin, said that over the next five years, training capacity will need to double, requiring major recruiting initiatives.

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