Denis Naughten TD has welcomed the commencement yesterday (Monday) of the long awaited, 24-hour, national neonatal transport service which transfers premature babies requiring urgent specialist medical care to the major Dublin hospitals.
It is expected that this service will ensure that about 100 extra premature babies will now be able to access timely, specialist treatment in the Rotunda, Coombe and National Maternity Hospitals in Dublin.
Every year around 4,500 children are born prematurely in Ireland and the extension of this service to provide 24/7 coverage means that critically ill new-borns from all 19 neonatal units across the State will now have access to specialist services at any hour of the day or night.
One such service is “therapeutic cooling” which is a treatment for brain damaged babies or babies who lacked oxygen at birth and which is a very effective treatment. However, time is critical and this treatment must be instituted within six hours of birth. Annually approximately 40 babies avail of this treatment, and this is expected to increase with the expansion of this transport service.
“The specialist ambulance service, which is capable of mobilising within 45 minutes of receiving a call from any hospital in the country was available mainly during office hours and the extension of its coverage will increase the capacity of the service by a quarter,” stated Denis Naughten.
“These specialist ambulance teams are trained in how to manage premature babies so their medical condition remains stable while being transported from their local maternity unit to the specialist centres in Dublin.
“With Ireland having a higher rate of prematurity at 1 in 14 births than the rest of Northern Europe where the rate is 1in 20 births, the enhancement of this service is set to improve access to specialist treatment throughout the country.”