Lives ‘could be lost’ over ambulance cutbacks in Limerick

HIQA was critical of the effects of ED overcrowding on the ambulance service

HIQA was critical of the effects of ED overcrowding on the ambulance service

  • by Nick Rabbitts

A LIMERICK ambulance controller has warned that either a paramedic or member of the public “will die” if resources are not invested in the service.

Shirley McEntee, who has 12 years experience as a paramedic, spoke out to highlight long waiting periods due to a lack of vehicles.

She says industrial relations are at “breaking point”, with morale at an all-time low.

Just three emergency vehicles cover the city and East Limerick between Thursday and Sunday nights, with two in operation Monday to Wednesday night, she explained.

“Someone will die,” Ms McEntee said, “whether that will be a patient or crew member”.

“Patient-wise it is very dangerous. We have been lucky enough in Limerick because the crew are very good to the controllers, and in turn we are very good to them,” she said.

However, she says goodwill between staff and management is “starting to fall apart”.

“You can’t be working 12 hours a day without getting a cup of tea. We all know you might get called away when you are eating your lunch. None of us are complaining about that. It is just we ask the management for something, and in return, we get nothing,” Ms McEntee said.

She added the city’s ambulance fleet are in a “fairly bad, rough condition” with hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock - and claimed paramedics have difficulties accessing supplies.

“You can’t expect a crew to go out and fix something they don’t have (the equipment to) fix,” she said.

“After working on an ambulance myself, there is nothing worse.”

Ms McEntee says she is expecting to be sanctioned by management after speaking out initially to RTE’s Prime Time programme. But her union SIPTU says they will not tolerate this.

Paul Bell, national organiser in the union’s health division said they will “defend and support members who become the subject of disciplinary proceedings in such cases”.

The HSE declined to comment when contacted.




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