As of 9am today (Monday) ambulances can now bring medical patients who meet agreed clinical criteria directly to Roscommon University Hospital instead. This prevents these patients being taken to an emergency department where they could be left in a parked ambulance and have to wait 24 hours on a trolley before getting a bed, Denis Naughten TD has stated.
“The new protocol, the first of its kind for Roscommon Hospital since its A&E closed in July 2011, will be particularly beneficial for older people who are more likely to fall under the medical criteria for treatment in Roscommon’s Medical Assessment Unit,” explained Denis Naughten.
“As a result of this change in policy local patients will now be treated in Roscommon, closer to their own families, taking pressure off the need for trolleys in the bigger hospitals in Portiuncula and Castlebar which are struggling to cope with the demand in their emergency departments.
“This change in policy by the HSE will also release ambulances from hospitals far quicker allowing them to respond quicker to other emergency calls throughout our region.”
The protocol that has now been agreed between the National Ambulance Service and the HSE allows the transfer of patients meeting strict clinical criteria to Roscommon University Hospital following consultation between the paramedic and the consultant at the hospital.
The Medical Assessment Unit at Roscommon Hospital can treat a range of medical conditions following a GP referral and now following a paramedic referral including respiratory (breathing) conditions, fever, seizures and headaches, and suspected illnesses such as pneumonia or chest infections on a GP referral and this will now be extended to paramedics.
“While patients with these symptoms cannot access the Medical Assessment Unit without a referral from their GP or a paramedic it will mean that patients who do meet the clinical criteria will get access to more timely care which will allow them to be discharged from hospital far quicker,” said Denis Naughten.
Expectations are that the numbers who will be transferred directly to Roscommon initially will be small due to a geographic restriction on which patients can be transferred, it is hoped that this can be extended to a wider catchment over time.
“But regardless of numbers, any reduction in the number of patients forced to wait in a cold corridor for 24 hours to access a hospital bed is a positive development, which will ensure that all patients who present at a local emergency department will be treated in a more timely manner,” concluded Denis Naughten.