SIPTU members working in the HSE National Ambulance Service are to ballot for strike action due to the continuing refusal of the caretaker Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar to publish a National Capacity Review of the service. Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the SIPTU Ambulance Sector in Liberty Hall, Dublin, today (Thursday, 31st March), SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Our members have been waiting months for the Minister to live up to his commitment to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in February 2014 that he would publish this review in speedy manner. “The Minister’s refusal to do this leaves our members with no option but to ballot for strike action as the publication of this report into the operational capacity of the ambulance service is in the interest of both workers and the public. “The first step the Minister for Health can take to avoid this action is to immediately publish the Capacity Review. The second step is to engage meaningfully with all stakeholders and representatives of ambulance professionals to agree on a way forward that ensures we have a fully funded and operational national ambulance service that is fit for purpose.” Chairman of Irish Ambulance Representative Council, Peter Ray, said: “The publication of the Capacity Review is absolutely vital, not withstanding all the challenges that it will present, so that steps can be taken to ensure the delivery of a world class publicly provided and funded national ambulance service. “In addition, we are calling for the implementation of a comprehensive intermediate care service plan across the 26 counties that will free up vital frontline emergency ambulance vehicles and personnel.” Arrangements are being put in place to commence the balloting of SIPTU members in all grades of the ambulance service with the vote scheduled to be concluded by the end of April.