Wednesday 13 December 2017

Talks pledge over ambulances takes heat out of dispute

Owen Keegan
Owen Keegan

Dublin ambulance personnel angered at a move to hand over emergency calls and ambulance dispatch to the HSE have welcomed the setting up of a forum to discuss the issue.

There was uproar last week among Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) members when City Manager Owen Keegan announced the changes.

Firefighters and their unions claimed they had been promised consultation on the matter first.

The forum was announced after a meeting between workers' representatives and Dublin City Council (DCC).

Sources say the meeting was "robust", but the outcome was welcomed by DFB when firefighters were assured they will continue to be fully involved in emergency ambulance service delivery with no reduction in vehicle numbers.

Crucially, it was agreed that the control centre reconfiguration project, which has been recommended by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and includes looking at integrating the call-taking and dispatch functions, will be discussed by the forum, to be chaired by former Dublin Chief Fire Officer Stephen Brady.


"Prior to this, there was a pre-determined outcome that we in DFB would lose the call-taking and dispatch function," a fire brigade source told the Herald.

"But now there is a forum to properly discuss it, so as far as we're concerned, that means no decision on the changes has been made."

Meanwhile, Siptu sector organiser Brendan O'Brien said that the meeting last Friday, which was attended by Siptu vice-president Patricia King, Impact general secretary Shay Cody, Mr Keegan and DCC assistant chief executive Brendan Kenny, was worthwhile.

"We welcome the fact that the forum proposal has emerged following the discussions," he said.

"We will now have a meeting of the sector committee on Thursday to see what way we will go forward.

"There is no time frame mentioned for the length of time the forum will exist, but at least it gives all sides a chance to share their views before a final decision is made."


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