02 Dec 2021

Kilkenny's ambulance night shift cover "could unravel faster than you can dial 999"

Concerns raised in the Dáil today...

Kilkenny's ambulance night shift cover has been described in the Dáil as a lottery with a local TD warning that the strategy “could unravel faster than the Minister can dial 911”.

Fianna Fáil's Bobby Aylward raised the matter under Topical Issues and “the need to address overnight ambulance resources in Kilkenny”.

The county has just two ambulances on duty each night for the almost 100,000 people in the county, figures obtained by the Kilkenny People previously revealed.

Kilkenny's emergency ambulances on day shift duty from Monday to Friday is four for each day but this drops down to two on Saturdays and Sundays.

The amount of emergency ambulances on night shift cover seven days a week across the county stands at two – a figure which local TDs have described as shocking.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Aylward said: “One ambulance can't cover for 50,000 people and they should be looked at on a county basis again.

Deputy Aylward highlighted that there is increased risk and potential need for ambulances at night-time especially at weekends in a vibrant city like Kilkenny.

He said the ambulance allocation is “not good enough” for a population of 100,000 people and the ratio of population to ambulances was inadequate and it "could unravel faster than [the Minister] could dial 911". 

In response, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Catherine Byrne, said: “Allocation is based on activity and demand. The National Ambulance Service operates on a national and area basis as opposed to a local base."

Deputy Aylward added: "It needs to be urgently re-examined. It's not viable, it's not practical. We cannot subject people to the lottery of roaming ambulances.”

The Minister said: “I'm taking notes of the concerns you've raised.

“The decision on the number of ambulances in Kilkenny, I don't know who made it, maybe it was the National Ambulance Service. Whatever reason night-time ambulances go down, I've no idea.”

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