Emergency Trauma Closures?

It is reported that nine hospitals across the country may have their emergency trauma services closed down on foot of a report from the Trauma Steering Group, which is charged with developing a policy for a national trauma network, writes Maureen Browne.

The Sunday Business Post newspaper reported that under the group’s proposals the hospitals concerned would no longer treat patients who had been in traffic incidents, or had serious falls, head injuries, broken limbs or major wounds. Patients would be treated in larger and better-equipped emergency departments, but this could involve longer journey times.

The report suggested the hospitals affected by the closure of trauma services could instead concentrate on selected medical care and increase the amount of elective or non-urgent surgery that they carried out.

It said the hospitals that would be affected by the move were identified in the report as Cavan General Hospital, Naas Hospital, Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar, St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, Wexford General Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel, the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise and the Mercy University Hospital in Cork.

The hospitals affected by the closure of trauma services could instead concentrate on selected medical care and increase the amount of elective or non-urgent surgery that they carried out.

The Sunday Business Post report said the forthcoming report of the Trauma Steering Group, which is chaired by surgeon Prof Eilis McGovern, would propose that the emergency departments in the nine hospitals should cease accepting trauma patients.

The Department of Health said there were no plans to close emergency departments across the country or to remove services from existing facilities.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Health Simon Harris said he had not seen any recommendations or output from the Trauma Steering Group. The spokesman said the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, which represents all surgeons and emergency medicine specialists, had sought that an examination be carried out into the concept of a trauma network in the country’s hospitals. The previous Minister for Health Leo Vardakar had agreed to this proposal and had established a group to look at the issue.