Cork TD says Health Minister has not expanded ambulance coverage as promised

29 December 2016
By Elaine Murphy
elaine@TheCork.ie

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher (Cork North Central TD) has said that nearly 12 months on from the start of General Election 2016, promises made by Minister Leo Varadkar regarding new ambulances have fallen flat.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting on the much trumpeted and heralded promises by then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar to improve and expand the national ambulance service. Last February, the Minister promised to increase the overall number of vehicles in services.

“Like so many of Minister Varadkar’s promises, it was all talk no action,” said the Cork North Central TD.”

“At the time, I welcomed the announcement of the service’s expansion, but pointed out that what the Minister proposed was actually far more modest than the spin emanating from Minister Varadkar’s office and would result in a net increase of just three ambulances.”

“10.5 months later, and even the modest increases have failed to materialise. Figures provided to me showed that at December 19th, 88 new Emergency Ambulances were registered, while 86 were decommissioned –a new gain of just two.”

“In addition, the Minister, at the time, promised that a further ten Intermediate Care Vehicles would be purchased bringing the total number of these vehicles, used for non-emergency patient transport, from 50 to 60. Again, the Minister fell short in his estimation of what would be delivered – just seven extra Intermediate Care Vehicles have been registered, while two have been decommissioned – so a promise half fulfilled,” added Kelleher.

“He also promised a new rapid response vehicle but as of December 20th no new vehicles had been registered nor had any been decommissioned.”

“This is a further example of a Minister that, irrespective of the Department he finds himself in charge of, prioritises the photo-call and soundbite rather than the delivery of commitments to the Irish people,” concluded Kelleher.

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