Regrettably, we are yet again reporting another recent case of an ambulance being delayed as a result of Eircode. We have investigated the cause and have confirmed that this is another case of Eircode misrouting.
Firstly, let us assure readers that in spite of the related delay, the woman involved is recovering well thanks to the expert work of National Ambulance Service paramedics when they got to her. We wish her a speedy recovery and congratulate her son for all that he did to ensure his mother got quick medical care.
This misrouting issue was caused once again by the fact that Eircode simply identifies a location and does not take into account the route by which that location can be accessed - i.e. it gives no clue as to where the access is and, due to inflexibility of design, cannot be adjusted to do that. In this case, the navigation mapping used by the Ambulance Service calculated a route via the nearest mapped road on its system to the Eircode location. This is how navigation systems normally work. There was no access from this location and, therefore, paramedics then had to go through a process of checking if they have the right code and finding a different way to it;- all using up valuable time. Time, as you know, is absolutely critical when it comes to a stroke patient.
Capita PLC, which trades in Ireland under its registered business name of Eircode, has admitted in email exchanges that Eircode has no routing capability and then proceeds to suggest how multiple international mapping & navigation companies can be contacted by the property owner to ask them to resolve the issue. This of course suggests that the problem is with those companies and not Eircode. Let us spell it out again.................................................... those companies DO NOT CLAIM in a Public Service Announcement broadcast, at license payer's expense on RTE networks every year during January to March since 2016 (broadcast just finished for this year), that their product "may help an ambulance find you faster." Those companies acknowledge that their routing solutions can be sometimes less than perfect due to variations and inaccuracies in mapping. However, none of them designed a National Postcode over the period 2005 to 2014, with a current cost to the Irish exchequer of over €50M;- completely ignoring what is navigation industry knowledge and without reference to navigation experts. Furthermore, those companies have not ignored multiple well documented requests that Eircode should warn people of possible errors in their codes with the possibility of misrouting and encourage them to check their code at least once before relying on it in an emergency. Not only has the Department of Communications & Eircode (Capita PLC) ignored requests to include the warning in their adverts, in a response to a letter to them in 2021 on the subject, the Head of the Eircode Division in the Department of Communications, Mr. Ben King, implied that misrouting did not occur because the Ambulance Service uses Ordnance Survey Mapping. There are three aspects to this response & inherent implication as follows:-
There are short, medium and long term solutions to this misrouting issue which can be applied (some here on our site) BUT the very 1st step is for all those behind Eircode to start admitting that there is a problem and to warn the public about it. There is a quick short term solution which is already supported by the Ambulance Service and mentioned on this website.
Very simply put, if the Eircode advert broadcast as a Public Service Announcement Free of Charge on RTE over the last 8 weeks had included a simple warning to the Public to check their codes and to use this website to help them do it, then this incident of Eircode misrouting could have been avoided.
Likewise, this misrouting incident which also happened this February could also have been avoided.
RTE has also been advised of this issue but has chosen not to apply any due diligence to the nature of advertisements broadcast on their networks as Public Service Announcements. It is RTE's assertion that once a Government agency tells them to broadcast something as a Public Service Announcement, they will do it without applying any oversight criteria.
It is not good enough that Eircode (Capita PLC) and the Eircode Division in the Department of Communications is not warning people of this problem but it is also not good enough that they are not ensuring new & corrected Eircodes get to Google Maps in a timely manner either. This means that 1st responders do not know that if they are using Google Maps, a new Eircode may not be there at all or, if a correction has been undertaken by Eircode to adjust the location of a code, this also may not have been applied in Google Maps causing them to be guided to the wrong location.
In the last week, two newspaper articles have confirmed that An Post's post men and women cannot use Eircode to deliver letters;- something that was established by then Deputy Hildegarde Naughton as Chair of the Oirecahtas Communications Committee in 2017/18. She did nothing and told no one about this at the time.
The issue of Eircode misrouting has been raised since 2015 and we continue to hear of new examples where ambulances are delayed and patients put at risk but the same Hildegarde Naughton TD, who is now the Minister with Responsibility for Eircode, is not doing anything about that either.
We at checkyourcode.ie have the expertise to help solve these problems and are more than willing to help the National Ambulance Service & Public representatives make it happen. Please let us do this together before someone loses their life as a result.