A Clare Fianna Fáil General Election candidate is calling for urgent action to address the deterioration in ambulance turnaround times over the past two years at the region’s main hospital.
HIQA’s 20-minute turnaround target has only been met in 18.3% of cases at University Hospital Limerick this year, while the HSE’s 30-minute one was met in 49%.
In 2017, these figures stood at 21.5% and 58.1% respectively; however, the UL Hospitals Group says it continues to monitor ambulance turnaround times and a number of measures to improve this have been implemented.
Doonbeg businesswoman Rita McInerney says it falls well below what’s expected of Ireland’s health service:
Data on ambulance turnaround times (TATs) for September 2019, shows that University Hospital Limerick was the busiest hospital in the country for ambulance calls during the month, with 1,641 calls in total.
The data shows UHL, while not meeting the national KPIs, does better than comparable major hospitals in the 30-minute and 60-minute KPIs for turnaround times.
While 804 ambulances (49% of all calls) at UHL were turned around in under 30 minutes, this remains short of the national KPI for ambulance turnaround time, which is that 95% of all ambulances should have a time interval of less than 30 minutes, measured from arrival at ED to when the ambulance is declared ready for another call.
New data for October shows a marginal increase of five in total ambulance calls on the previous month (up by 0.3%), and an improvement in numbers of ambulances turned around within 30 minutes – 53.3% of all calls, compared with the 49% measured in September. Ambulances turned around within the 20-minute (HIQA) timeframe also increased in October to 20.8%, compared to 18.3% the previous month.
The data shows that in October 92.4% of ambulances in UHL were turned around within 60 minutes compared to a national average of 83.3%.
UHL has implemented a number of measures to improve turnaround times for ambulances over the past few years. These include:
Two staff are allocated to the Triage function in the Emergency Department and ambulances are prioritised on presentation to be released
When there is a surge in presentations, we allocate additional staff to release ambulances.
In partnership with the ambulance services nationally we have an agreed escalation process that we fully adhere to.
We have also implemented the ED Arrival Screen, which provides live information on inbound ambulances, and assists ED managers in preparing for incoming ambulances.
We continue to monitor ambulance turnaround times at University Hospital Limerick on a daily basis, and will continue to strive to meet the 95pc target.