Hopes new hospital trauma system will reduce pressure on A&Es and save lives

A new trauma system for Ireland will lead to better outcomes for patients, according to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

He says it will make sure they get to the right place, for the right care, first time.

The Minister today published the report of the Trauma Steering Group, 'A Trauma System for Ireland', following Government approval.

"The Trauma Steering Group was established by Government to bring about better outcomes for the 1,600 patients who suffer a major trauma in Ireland every year," Minister Harris said.

"The aim 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."

The report recommends the establishment of an inclusive trauma system which will include two regional trauma networks, one in Dublin and one in Cork.

There will be one designated major trauma centre in each of these networks, which should treat a minimum number of major trauma patients in order to maintain a critical mass of specialist expertise.

The networks will also include a number of other trauma units and, in addition, a trauma unit with specialist services, which will also deal with trauma cases.

At the moment there are no trauma systems in Ireland. Instead, Emergency Departments are equipped to a greater or lesser extent to deal with trauma, and pre-hospital emergency care services bring people to those hospitals without having adequate clear protocols around trauma.

Currently, patients may present to any acute hospital, regardless of how much expertise and experience in trauma exists there.

"The vision for a national trauma system set out in this major report is to prevent unnecessary deaths, to reduce disabilities and to significantly improve the patient’s chances of attaining the fullest possible recovery," said Minister Harris.

"Evidence-based and informed by population needs, it addresses the entire care pathway from prevention and pre-hospital emergency care through to rehabilitation.

"There is a relatively low incidence of major trauma in Ireland but the cost to individuals and their families can be very high. The trauma system for Ireland will enhance the chance of survival and lead to better patient outcomes.”

The Minister also noted the important role of the major trauma audit.

The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has welcomed the publication of the report and highlighted the inefficiencies of the current system.

"It is vital for patients that the ‘A Trauma System for Ireland’ report is implemented in its entirety and as soon as possible," it said in a statement.

"Today, if you crash your car on Dublin’s M50 and sustain head, spinal, abdominal and bony injuries, you will be brought from the crash site to the nearest hospital. No one hospital in Dublin has all the trauma specialties on site.

"You will need to be transferred from the first hospital to the neurosurgical centre at Beaumont Hospital to have your brain bleed operated on; be moved from there to the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital to have your unstable spinal injury operated on and from there to Tallaght Hospital to have your fractured pelvis operated on and ultimately be moved from there to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire for rehabilitation.

"The situation in rural Ireland is similarly inadequate."

Read the report in full here:

By Denise O’Donoghue

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