Offaly native takes top post

THE Health Service Executive is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Morton as Director of the National Ambulance Service . Mr Morton, who is a native of Offaly, was formerly a Chief Ambulance Officer with the HSE Midlands area.

THE Health Service Executive is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Morton as Director of the National Ambulance Service . Mr Morton, who is a native of Offaly, was formerly a Chief Ambulance Officer with the HSE Midlands area.

The appointment arises as part of the strategic development of the National Ambulance Service nationwide in response to developments taking place across the healthcare system include the reconfiguration of acute hospital services, the roll-out of the Clinical Care Programmes and the recent publication by HIQA of Response Times and Quality Standards for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care. The plans to develop the National Ambulance Service will also take into consideration the Government Task Force Report on Sudden Cardiac Death and the C&AG report on the Dublin Ambulance Service.

Planning and consultation with the relevant stakeholders in relation to how the National Ambulance Service need to be developed to meet the future demands and challenges for the service, as outlined above, are now underway.

The reconfiguration of Ambulance Command and Control Centres is being progressed under the Croke Park Agreement. Moving from eight regional centres to two national centres, one live and one back up centre, is fundamental in ensuring that a nationally configured service can be provided which is not restricted by county or regional boundaries. This means that the nearest available ambulance with the most appropriately skilled Paramedic or Advanced Paramedic will be dispatched based on the patients clinical need. This will help achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.

Commenting on these appointments, Gerry O’Dwyer, Regional Director of Operations Dublin Mid-Leinster said “These appointments bring a wealth of experience to this most critical aspect of our organisation. We have to ensure that the National Ambulance Service is well placed to deliver the changes required to support the wider HSE agenda to improve services and safety to and for our patients.”

Speaking about the need to develop a single Ambulance Control Centre, Mr Morton, Director of the National Ambulance Service, commented; “Our service will face significant challenges in the months and years ahead as we seek to develop and improve how ambulance services are provided to meet the needs of the changing healthcare system and the new HIQA standards that are now in place. We must find ways to ensure the most efficient use of our resources, in the deployment of resources and in how staff deliver services. Through technological advancements we will improve our awareness of real time performance and will work towards delivering a more efficient national service rather than the current geographically provided service this will assist in reducing response times to emergencies.”

The National Ambulance Service is also planning to modernise all of its communications infrastructure and technology in line with international best practice. Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS) will allow for the systematic categorisation and prioritisation of emergency ambulance calls by identifying the appropriate skill level required to meet the patients needs and sending the nearest appropriate resource available to them.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has commented on the existing control arrangements in Dublin identifying that the lack of a single point of contact for all ambulance calls for Dublin City & County was not a satisfactory arrangement for supporting the needs of patients or clinicians. The new National Ambulance Control Centre will ensure that there is a single point of contact for answering and directing all 999/112 calls. This will further reduce the potential for duplicate responses and ensure that the nearest available ambulance is dispatched to an incident or patient at all times.

Meanwhile the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has welcomed Mr Morton’s appointment. “He has worked in the National Ambulance Service for over 20 years and brings a wealth of experience to the role as well as a proven track record of running a high quality ambulance service with a commitment to excellent patient care.” said the IAEM.