In the public health service, Health Service Executive (HSE) Areas provide ambulance services to transport people who are seriously ill to hospital, or between hospitals. Ambulance services are part of the emergency services and can be contacted by telephoning 999 or 112.
In the Dublin area, the Dublin Fire Brigade provides an emergency ambulance service for the greater Dublin area, while the HSE Eastern Area has its own ambulance service Ė the two are not integrated.
There is no absolute right to an ambulance service. Generally, ambulances are used when the emergency services are called. For non-emergencies, the use of an ambulance is usually a medical decision.
HSE Areas may use ambulances to bring patients to day hospitals, disability centres, clinics and dialysis units. Some Areas also arrange for transport to out-patient clinics and day centres. These ambulances or buses may be provided under contract to private transport operators.
Private and volunteer ambulance services
There are a number of private ambulance services, including air ambulance services, which are available on a commercial basis.
Volunteer ambulance services often provide cover at public events. Examples include the St Johnís Ambulance Brigade of Ireland, the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps and the Irish Red Cross Society.
Charges for ambulance services
Unless you have a medical card, you may be charged for using an ambulance service. However, the position varies considerably from region to region. Charges may also be waived in certain cases (i.e., hardship).
On occasion, an HSE Area may assist with transport costs for a person who has to travel a long distance to a hospital. However, again, this situation varies considerably from one HSE Area to another and in many cases, is dependent on personal circumstances.
Private ambulance services are commercial, and you telephone them and pay for their services in the normal commercial manner.
Reviewed: September 26, 2006
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