herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Firemen unions may join to fight HSE's calls move

Peter Nolan
Peter Nolan

Dublin Fire Brigade paramedics from different unions may form a united front in their battle to prevent the HSE taking control of emergency calls and ambulance dispatch.

Members of the Impact trade union are to seek sanction from union executives to ballot for industrial action and join their colleagues aligned to Siptu in opposing a Dublin City Council decision to hand over call-out controls to the National Ambulance Service.

Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) argues that the move will have an adverse effect on ambulance response times in the capital.

"The Dublin ambulance service operates on less than 10pc of the national service budget, yet responds to 40pc of ambulance calls nationally," said Impact national secretary Peter Nolan.

"It operates to the highest standards, and has a proven track record of excellence. The city cannot afford to have that excellence undermined," he added.

Impact represents 200 fire-fighter paramedics in Dublin Fire Brigade.

Mr Nolan said the proposed measures, which he claims have been developed without consultation with workers, would not address inefficiencies in the ambulance service identified in a recent Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) report.

"These measures, which look very much like the early steps toward subsuming the Dublin Fire Brigade's ambulance service into the National Ambulance Service (NAS), do not address the issue of average response times," he explained.

"We would raise the question of how response times might be affected if calls for the Dublin service are processed by the NAS. This introduces an additional step in the response process which could increase response times," he added.

non-critical

"The delays in Dublin response times, identified by HIQA, relate only to non-critical calls. The response times to critical incidents are shorter, and reflect the level of excellence that Dublin citizens associate with the Dublin Fire Brigade," Mr Nolan said.

Yesterday the Impact union agreed to seek sanction for a ballot on industrial action

cfeehan@herald.ie

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