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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

Major traumas will be sent to hospitals in either Dublin or Cork under new plan

A specialist trauma unit will also be located in a third location.

Image: Leon Farrell

THE CABINET HAS today approved the overhauling of how trauma care is delivered in Ireland.

Under the new trauma system there will be two major trauma centres in Dublin and one in Cork.

It’s understood that a special trauma unit will also be established, possibly in Galway, which will deal with specialist injuries. At present, 26 hospitals can receive trauma cases, but in future the more complex emergencies will go to one of the two major centres.

Major trauma involving complex injuries impacts around 1,600 patients a year in Ireland, said Health Minister Simon Harris.

‘The right care in the right place’

“While this is a small number within more than 1.1 million emergency department attendances, it is essential that these patients receive the right care in the right place, first time,” he added.

Harris explained that at the moment there is now trauma system in Ireland. Traumas are sent to emergency departments, which the minister said might not have “adequate clear protocols around trauma”, he said.

The minister said this means that currently, patients may present to any acute hospital, regardless of how much expertise and experience in trauma exists there.

“We know that patients often need to be transferred to a second hospital to receive definitive care for their injuries. This can mean delays in decision-making and treatment that can result in poorer outcomes and preventable disability or death.

“Internationally, the evidence is clear – the introduction of a trauma system is associated with a reduction in death and disability,” said Harris.

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It’s reported that there were criticisms of the plan from a number of rural TDs who said the plan did not recognise the unique population dispersal of the country.

However, the health minister maintains that the aim of centralising trauma centres “is to reduce death and disability, and ensure high quality trauma services are available to everyone in the country whether they live in a city or in rural Ireland,” he said.

It’s understood the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has also sought assurances the HSE would use the new trauma policy to increase preparedness for dealing with mass casualty incidents.

The Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien said he looks forward to progressing the establishment of the National Office for Trauma Services and the appointment of a National Clinical Lead as soon as possible.

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