Galway TD criticises lack of air ambulance access at national trauma centre

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A national trauma centre is of “little use” if patients cannot get to it Galway TD Denis Naughten said about the lack of access for an air ambulance.

He was speaking about the recent news that air ambulances can’t land at the Mater Hospital, one of two national trauma centres in the country, because the helipad is blockedA national trauma centre is of “little use” if patients cannot get to it Galway TD Denis Naughten said about the lack of access for an air ambulance..

“It was accepted by Cabinet in 2018 that the reconfiguration of trauma services should not go ahead until proposed improvements in existing air ambulance services are introduced and additional ground ambulance resources provided,” stated Denis Naughten.

“While the decision to streamline and properly resource two major trauma centres for the critically ill – the Mater Hospital and Cork University Hospital – is the correct one, the Mater Hospital does not have an operational helipad.”

The Irish Times reported on Monday that the existing helipad at the Mater Hospital is blocked off by prefabs that were built on it to treat COVID-19 patients.

As a result of this, any air ambulance patients transfers have to land at Dublin Airport or Phoenix Park, and have the patient taken from there by road.

On top of the lack of a proper helipad, Deputy Naughten said that the air ambulance service in sorely lacking in many areas.

“We have yet to see an air ambulance service covering the whole country and the present service is, in part, supported by a charity funded service and we still have no night-time service.

“During the winter we can have as little as six hours flying time during daylight, and the darker months are when we are more likely to have road traffic accidents which, in many instances, require major trauma care.”

“Does anybody ever consider how the seriously ill patient can access these state-of-the-art services if they are hundreds of miles away, waiting on an ambulance to come?”

The National Ambulance Service is also now supported by the Irish Community Rapid Response charity based out of Cork.

After launching in September 2019, this air ambulance was tasked to 490 incidents in 2020, including in Galway, in its first full year of operations.