Dublin City Council must re-engage with Ambulance Forum and prevent industrial action by Dublin Fire Brigade

17 February 2017

Cllr Alison Gilliland, Chairperson DCC Special Committee Fire/Ambulance Services and Emergency Management has today said:

‘Dublin Fire Brigade officers have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action to protect their Ambulance call and dispatch service from being transferred to the National Ambulance Service in Tallaght. I totally support their action and call on Dublin City Council to prevent the action being taken by re-entering the Ambulance Forum and, along with Dublin City Fire Brigade Senior Management, coming to an agreed consensus on how best address the issue of call and dispatch.’

‘Almost 2 years ago DCC CEO Owen Keegan in conjunction with the 3 other Dublin local authorities took a unilateral decision to transfer Dublin Fire Brigade Emergency Medical Services’ call-taking and dispatch to the NAS in Tallaght. This decision was taken without consultation or any evidence that such a transfer would address the concerns raised in a 2014 HIQA review on pre-hospital emergency care services https://www.hiqa.ie/publications/review-pre-hospital-emergency-care-services

‘On foot of serious reservations from fire and ambulance officers that such a move would be detrimental to the current organisation of the DFB EMS an Ambulance Forum was established to include senior Dublin Fire Brigade management, Dublin City Council and DFB employee representatives SIPTU & IMPACT. This forum has discussed the HIQA report and commissioned an expert panel to make recommendations on governance, funding and call-taking and dispatch.’

‘The Expert Panel, consisting of an expert in pre-hospital emergency medicine, local authority management and value for money financing under the chair of Mr Stephen Brady, a former Dublin Chief Fire Officer, presented a comprehensive report and recommendations to the Forum. Two technical experts were commissioned to make recommendations as to how the DFB and NAS call taking and dispatch services could talk safely and effectively to each other so as to maximise available ambulances across Dublin City and County. This report did not recommend that the two call and dispatch services amalgamate but rather that an efficient technological system be put in place. Dublin City Council walked out of the forum upon receipt of this technological report, causing the forum to collapse without resolution.’

‘This behaviour is completely unacceptable – DCC has turned its back on a partnership approach because the forum did not recommend its preference for managing call taking and dispatch, a preference that was rejected by both experts and officers in the field because a technological communication sharing system that is a more clinically and financially effective and safer resolution has been found. This behaviour has now resulted in fire and ambulance officers voting for industrial action, including strike action, to protect the highly efficient service it provides.’

‘I find it incredible that DCC has rejected expert evidence on this matter, evidence that presents a technological solution enabling DFB EMS and NAS work safely and effectively together. DCC has also rejected the view of Dublin City Council members that partnership is the only way to resolve the issue. Therefore, I am calling yet again on the CEO, Mr Owen Keegan, to set aside management’s personal views on call and dispatch and re-engage with the Ambulance Forum so as to come to an agreed resolution and prevent officers proceeding with industrial action’

‘Dublin Fire Brigade fire-based emergency medical services put the patient at the centre of its call management. It is highly efficient both from a clinical and a financial perspective with each ambulance supporting over 20 calls in a 24 hour basis. DFB fire appliances all crewed by paramedics or advanced paramedics support its ambulances to ensure fast, expert and safe responses to emergency medical calls across our city and county. At present the service is operating over capacity and requires 4 additional ambulances – another matter that DCC does not seem to be seriously engaging with despite many representations from the service itself and from DCC Councillors’

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