The Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore will be home to one of the Trauma Units in the new Trauma Networks planned by the HSE, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten has revealed.
A report from the Trauma Steering Group published this week stated that Tullamore had been identified as one of 16 hospitals being considered for a specialist Trauma Unit under a new 'hub and spoke' system. However, speaking to the Offaly Independent this week Minister Naughten said that Tullamore had already been chosen as a location for a unit. The steering group recommends that two Trauma Networks be established, Central and South, with Major Trauma Centre bases in Dublin and Cork.
Minster Naughten says that Tullamore will be one of the 'spokes' in the Central Trauma Network and that the establishment of the new unit will require additional funding.
"It will be one of the trauma units. If Tullamore was not to be designated, it would mean that there would be no hospital between Galway and Dublin that would be able to cater for trauma cases. We are talking about serious trauma. Lower level trauma will be dealt with in Mullingar and Portiuncula depending on the scale of trauma.
"It will mean that there will be a requirement for additional staffing in Tullamore to be able to cater for a wider catchment in relation to serious trauma," Minister Naughten said.
The report by the steering group stated that Tullamore has been identified as a location for a unit as it is the only hospital in the region with a 24/7 Emergency Deparment with Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery and General Surgery available on call.
The report also states that under the Trauma Network system there will be "clear roles" for "Injury Units" and "Local Emergency Hospitals", such as Mullingar, Portlaoise and Portiuncula, in the treatment of non-trauma related illnesses requiring urgent treatment and less severe traumatic injuries.
Minister Naughten also stressed that a new Trauma Unit in Tullamore will not lead to a downgrading of other hospitals in the midlands.
"There's no negative for the other hospitals. You are talking about a very small percentage of patients that would bypassing those hospitals. You could be talking about one or two patients a day. The overall numbers are not big but it's about building up the capacity to actually cater for those critical patients in Tullamore."
Deputy Barry Cowen says that Tullamore hospital has to have a truama unit under the new proposals.
“The report highlights how there are 16 acute hospitals that could potentially meet the designation criteria for Trauma Units and Tullamore is one of them. It is also the only one in the Midlands which in my view makes the case overwhelming.
“The report does say that many of the 16 hospitals all have resource deficiencies and it is urgent that they be addressed so that the services can be provided.
“Minister Harris must make the decision quickly and sanction the resources necessary for Tullamore to fulfill this role.”