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"Criminal" that potentially life-saving stroke machines are lying idle

The machines were purchased by the HSE, but only five of the 12 machines are currently being used.

Image: Stroke via Shutterstock

SEVEN OUT OF 12 machines for assessing people for strokes are lying idle due to “challenges” in linking up hospitals.

They were purchased as part of the Telemedicine Rapid Access for Stroke and Neurological Assessment programme (TRASNA), implemented by the HSE, but so far just five of the 12 teledocs have been sent to the hospitals implementing phase 1 of the TRASNA service.

The HSE told TheJournal.ie that phase 2 of the TRASNA programme will see the remaining teledocs deployed to the hospitals later this year.

“There are some technical challenges in linking between hospitals that are being worked on to enable this to happen,” said the HSE.

These machines will provide a daytime telestroke/telemedicine capability for all these centres for management of stroke, neurological and other disorders.

How they work

According to the HSE, the TRASNA programme involves the use of three pieces of equipment in the delivery of the stroke telemedicine service:

  • Teleconferencing system used at the patient’s bedside, referred to as Teledoc
  • A viewing station, referred to as a Base Station
  • Laptop used by consultants when providing the service out of hours

Deputy Denis Naughten, who has raised this issue a number of times in the Dáil, told TheJournal.ie that “the reality is that people are losing their lives and people are ending up in long term nursing home care directly because these machines continue to lie in cardboard boxes and not in accident and emergency departments”.

He said that not only is it impacting on people’s lives and quality of life, but it is also having “a huge financial impact” on the health service.

He rejected the explanation of “technical challenges”, alleging it was “factually incorrect”.

Quite a number of hospitals have their x ray systems linked up together. The technology and capability is in the hospitals.

Naughten added:

“The issue is in relation to consultant buy-in and that is a matter that needs to be dealt with by the HSE, by either negotiating with or putting the resources in place to ensure the existing consultants  operate the machines; or alternatively appointing a dedicated team of consultants whose primary responsibility is for the operating of these machines.”

It is believed that some consultants are not using the machines due to lack of manpower at the hospitals where they are based.

Deputy Naughten said that he believes the solution is a dedicated team of consultants operating the 12 machines.

He said the HSE should appoint “five or six additional consultants” whose primary responsibility would be to operate the TRASNA programme on a 24/7 rota.

“Then they can do whatever private work or research work as well in that particular hospital,” he said.

Impact

He described it as “nothing short of criminal” that people’s lives could be being impacted because all of the machines have not been rolled out.

“It is not good enough, and someone should be held accountable,” he said. Deputy Naughten plans on raising the issue with the Dáil again in the near future.

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