herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Ambulances break down 235 times across the country

A broken-down ambulance sits on a recovery truck (Ciara Wilkinson)
A broken-down ambulance sits on a recovery truck (Ciara Wilkinson)

Nearly 250 ambulances broke down across the country last year, including one incident in which the wheels fell off a vehicle while transporting a patient to hospital.

Figures show the highest number of breakdowns happened in Dublin.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to Fine Gael senator Hildegarde Naughton show 235 breakdowns were recorded by the National Ambulance Service between February 12 and November 11 last year.

Died

Of these, 123 were in Leinster, 58 in the western region and 23 in the southern region.

In Galway, 15 ambulances broke down, with 13 in Limerick and 11 in Clare.

The figures include the incident where the back wheels fell off an ambulance while it was taking a patient from Letterkenny in Co Donegal to University College Hospital Galway.

The ambulance was carrying a patient along with a nurse, anaesthetist and two paramedics when the incident happened last August 26 outside Sligo.

While the patient subsequently died, the incident is not thought to have impacted on their condition.

"The number of ambulance breakdowns is concerning and is a consequence of many years of under-investment in the National Ambulance Service, which is responsible for saving countless lives every year," said Ms Naughton.

The senator welcomed the €18m that has since been invested in the ambulance fleet to "ensure such statistics are consigned to the past".

Last year, 53 ambulances were decommissioned and replaced by 64 new vehicles.

The addition of 85 ambulances this year will see the fleet expand to 268.

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