Local TD and Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly has expressed disappointment at the misuse of taxpayers’ money on private ambulances. O’Reilly, told the County Leader, “The HSE spend over €25 million on private ambulances over the past five years.
This does not constitute value for money and the money should have been spent purchasing and staffing new ambulances for each HSE region which would constitute an investment and tangible assets for the State. It’s so important for the people in the North County to ensure we have an adequate amount of ambulances available to us.
Considering the latest census, we have the fastest growing population with the youngest and oldest which shows, it’s so important we have ambulances available to us. It is so important to the people of the North County as we don’t have a hospital and it’s hit and miss if you get sick after 5pm that you can get to see a doctor and there for some people who have no choice but to call an ambulance,” she said.
“Privatisation in its various forms has been spreading across our health service for some time now. The outsourcing of ambulance services to private companies by our health service is further evidence of this.”
She continued, “The Government and the private interests involved will say that it is more cost effective, however, there is no evidence of it being a cheaper, more efficient, or innovative method of providing this essential public service. Figures released to me in a response to a Parliamentary Question have shown that the state has spent €25,630,392 on private ambulances since 2012. It is my belief that the HSE should be purchasing and staffing new ambulances, which would make more economic sense in the long run. To actually buy an ambulance and have it fully operational and staffed would cost €220,000. It should be noted that the money spent on private ambulance services since 2012 would have bought at least 116 fully equipped emergency ambulances”.
She continued, “Unless the HSE invests in new ambulances the ambulance asset stock will continue to fall and they will become even more reliant on private providers. This is evidenced in the fact that there was nearly a E2 million jump in expenditure on private ambulances between 2014 and 2016 (€1,967,947) and the increasing spend shows no sign of abating. The State needs to ensure that we have a high quality, publicly owned stock of ambulances, instead of putting money into the pockets of private companies which does not constitute fiscal prudence or a benefit to the taxpayer,” she concluded.