Tuesday 2nd December 2014
- Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report entitled Review of Pre-hospital Emergency Care Services.
- Report on ambulance services provides a pathway for improving quality and level of service delivered to patients.
This is a very detailed report on the state of our ambulance services and it highlights the range of challenges that need to be addressed. But it also provides 12 key recommendations, providing a pathway for improving the quality and level of service delivered to patients. If these recommendations are delivered the quality of and access to ambulance services will be increased across the country.
Having a National Ambulance Service delivering pre-hospital care across the country has been a very significant reform of our health service. In its report HIQA acknowledges the importance of this change and of moving towards one national ambulance control centre. However, legacy issues from the old fragmented system remain and must be addressed.
It is imperative that the recommendations from this report are fully implemented. The HSE, the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade must now cooperate to make sure that the required reforms become a reality. In particular there must be a clear focus on the urgent need for co-operation and integration between the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade, this has the potential to vastly improve the service available to patients in Dublin.
Using alternative care pathways is one recommendation that must be considered as a priority. The report highlights that nearly all ambulance patients are taken to an Emergency Department, this contrasts with international examples where up to 40% are treated by paramedics at the scene. Alternative care pathways also involve using local injuries clinics as an alternative to EDs. This is something that is already happening in Cork with the Mercy Urgent Care Centre in Gurranabraher. These reforms will not only make ambulance services more efficient but also to reduce pressure on other parts of our health system.
Delivering an improved ambulance service is a necessity. This will require making better use of existing resources but it also needs the recruitment of more paramedics. Now that we have a report that sets out a pathway for improving our ambulance service it must be acted on and its recommendations must be delivered. It is imperative that the recommendations from this report are fully implemented. The HSE, the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade must now cooperate to make sure that the required reforms become a reality.