Is the Irish Ambulance Sector not regulated at the moment?
No, the Irish ambulance sector is not regulated. The pre-conditions that must be met in order to set up an ambulance operation are well below what should be required of any ambulance organisation, in order to protect patients. Lifeline first wrote to the then Minister for Health, Mary Harney, in December 2006 seeking regulation and, while the Minister met with us and listened attentively/indicated her support for our initiative, it has still not happened.
What has Lifeline done since December 2006 regarding seeking regulation of the Irish Ambulance Sector?
While we do not believe that this should be an agenda that a private ambulance operator has to drive, we have engaged in correspondence with the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and, more recently, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on the matter, but to no avail at present. We also met with Minister James Reilly in May 2010, in his capacity as opposition spokesperson for Health and he also expressed support for our campaign. However, since his appointment as Minister for Health he has not yet enacted legislation .
What happens in the absence of regulation?
In the extreme case, anything and everything. No more than in any sector of the economy, no ambulance service, whether public, private, voluntary or auxiliary could claim to fully meet every standard that they ought to meet in order to provide the best possible service to patients in their care. However, in the absence of a fully detailed, independent regulatory framework, governing every aspect of ambulance service operation, and not just the limited function performed by PHECC, there are many ambulance services that are flouting basic rules and standards that users of their service could reasonably expect of them. Independent regulation needs to be put in place as a priority. Please Contact Us if you would like to lend your voice and support to our campaign on this vital matter.