HSE continues using Swords ambulance base after 'dispute'
The HSE will operate an ambulance out of its old base in north County Dublin until a delayed €500,000 facility is opened.
The region, where more than 300,000 people live, was being served by only one Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance from Swords fire station, backed up by ambulances from the city, due to a dispute at the National Ambulance Service's base nearby.
A new facility was supposed to open there last week with two ambulances based there, but it lacks tables, chairs, storage facilities for equipment and beds for staff.
Now the HSE has begun to operate one ambulance from the old facility at Lissenhall again, though it conceded that another vehicle is still based at St James's Hospital on the southside.
A spokeswoman said this crew will work at the new Lissenhall base when it opens.
She added that this is expected to happen at the end of next month.
Fianna Fail senator Darragh O'Brien expressed concern over the stretched ambulance service in north County Dublin earlier this week, warning that "someone will end up dead".
Last night he welcomed the temporary use of the old Lissenhall base.
"Hopefully the new base will be opened soon so that the crews won't be stuck in the old base for too long," he said.
While acknowledging that there had been a row over the Lissenhall facility, Health Minister Leo Varadkar insisted yesterday that the ambulance service was not diminished in the north county area.
"There was a dispute, I believe, yesterday about the temporary facility at Lissenhall but they're using it again today," he said.
"Everything is being done to open the shiny new facility at Lissenhall.
"Senator O'Brien is correct in saying that it isn't in use - this is a new facility which is not yet open. It needs to be kitted out fully and is intended to be open at the end of next month.
"What he is wrong about is to suggest there has been some diminution in the ambulance service - there hasn't been."
Local TD and Children's Minister James Reilly welcomed the news that the old station is being used, and reassured the residents of north Dublin that the HSE and Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) ambulances would continue to provide a service.
"I welcome the fact that the old station is going to be re-opened as a temporary measure until the new station opens late next month," said Dr Reilly.
"The people of north Dublin can rest assured that the emergency services who render such sterling service to all our people will continue to be in a position to do so."
A spokeswoman for the HSE confirmed that an ambulance would be operating from the old Lissenhall base.
"The National Ambulance Service can confirm that there continues to be one vehicle operating out of the Lissenhall site in Swords, and this has been the situation for a number of years. The DFB also operate one vehicle from Swords Fire Station," she said.
"The crew currently have temporary accommodation which they have been using for the past 12 to 14 months while the building project has been ongoing. The building works are complete, which now enables the fit-out process to begin.
"Staff have been informed of the progress. It is anticipated that the new building will be open for use by the end of October.
"There are separate crews working out of St James's Hospital. These are different from the crew working out of Lissenhall. When the new base is open, a crew will be redeployed from St James's to work full-time from the Swords base."