Dáil Éireann - Volume 540 - 04 July, 2001

Written Answers. - Ambulance Service.

153. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to a Scottish study which showed that reducing ambulance response times to five minutes could almost double the survival rate for cardiac arrests not witnessed by ambulance crews; and if, in view of the outcome of that study, he will review the performance of the ambulance services here. [20348/01]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Response times are an important measure of the operational efficiency of the ambulance service and are monitored on an ongoing basis by the health boards. Response times vary in each health board area, depending on the geographic location of the ambulance centre in relation to the call out location.

I am anxious to ensure that we have meaningful performance targets for the ambulance service. A combination of good clinical audit and response times offers the best way forward. Good progress has been made in this area with the introduction of the national patient report form and the recent introduction and implementation of standard operating procedures. The development of clinically based response times is a complex area and the views of the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council, which I recently established, will be critical in developing a suitable system for use here. The council intends to commence a review of response times standards later this year and will report its findings to me when the project is complete.

Considerable resources have been provided by my Department for the extension of 24 hour on duty cover in ambulance stations and two man crewing on all ambulances. These are important factors in improving response times and are a high priority for further investment in the future.