The decision to streamline and properly resource two major trauma centres for the critically ill is of little use unless patients can access the facilities, says Denis Naughten TD.
“It was accepted by Cabinet in 2018 that the reconfiguration of trauma services should not go ahead until proposed improvements in existing air ambulance services are introduced and additional ground ambulance resources provided,” stated Denis Naughten.
“While the decision to streamline and properly resource two major trauma centres for the critically ill – the Mater Hospital and Cork University Hospital – is the correct one, the Mater Hospital does not have an operational helipad.
“We are now told in today’s Irish Times that the helipad at the hospital was never used regularly and as a result, air ambulance missions have to land at Dublin Airport or the Phoenix Park, with onward transport by road.
“We have yet to see an air ambulance service covering the whole country and the present service is, in part, supported by a charity funded service and we still have no night-time service.
“During the winter we can have as little as six hours flying time during daylight and the darker months are when we are more likely to have road traffic accidents, which, in many instances, require major trauma care.
“Sadly, in Ireland we have seen an approach to health reconfiguration that ignores the patient. Does anybody ever consider how the seriously ill patient can access these state-of-the-art services if they are hundreds of miles away, waiting on an ambulance to come?” concluded Denis Naughten.