Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has criticised both the Minister for Health and the HSE following the release of figures to Sinn Féin which show that between 2011 and last year Letterkenny University Hospital spent over €3.6 million on private ambulances.
Deputy Doherty has branded the situation as outrageous claiming that the spend does not constitute value for money and that the money should instead have been spent purchasing and staffing new ambulances.
“The National Ambulance Service is at the front line of emergency medical and pre-hospital care and they play a vital role in saving lives and transferring patients," he said.
“Unfortunately, ambulance services have suffered from years of cuts, underinvestment, and the privatisation of ambulance services with over €31 million being spent on private ambulances across the state by the HSE since 2011.
“At Letterkenny University Hospital alone €3,634,195 has been spent on private ambulances between 2011 and 2017 – this is an outrageous use of state monies.
“And spending on these private vehicles is soaring as the figures reveal that the HSE spent €837,328 on private ambulances in 2017, up from €105,633 back in 2011.
“This huge spend on hiring private ambulance services does not make sense nor does it represent value for the tax payer.
“The HSE should be purchasing and staffing new ambulances for the hospital which would make more economic sense in the long run. It’s estimated that the money spent on private ambulance services since 2011 would have bought at least 140 fully equipped emergency ambulances.
“In order to have a responsive, functioning, world-class ambulance service then you have to invest in personnel, vehicles, and technology instead of diverting funding to private interests.
“Both the government and the HSE need to ensure that we have a high quality, publicly owned stock of ambulances instead of putting money into the pockets of private companies which does not constitute fiscal prudence or a benefit to the taxpayer.”