Nine hospitals around the country, including the Mercy University Hospital in Cork, face losing their emergency trauma services.
The draft plans for health service will see emergency departments at the nine hospitals no longer treat patients presenting with major traumas like head injuries and broken limbs.
Some of the other hospitals included in the proposal are St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, Wexford Hospital, and South Tipperary Hospital.
Fergal Hickey, a consultant in emergency medicine and spokesman for the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine, said it is important the news is not interpreted through a negative lens.
“The risk of publicising this as a negative is that it has the risk of something, that is fundamentally positive, not running because of political implications,” said Mr Hickey.
“Politicians, by and large, will see this as losing something when this is about better outcomes.”
Mr Hickey stated that the association has long held the view that people need to be treated in the appropriate place, and not necessarily in an emergency department, in order to have better recovery outcomes.
“There’s a big difference between saying Wexford hospital will not receive emergency trauma [and] saying Wexford won’t have an emergency department,” said Mr Hickey.
“People are not going to lose emergency departments. What’s going to change is that patients with emergency traumas will be brought to hospitals with a better capacity to deal with that trauma.”
He said traumas only account for a very small percentage of emergency departments’ day-to-day work: “Major traumas account for a very small percentage of an ED’s work, maybe 1%, but 1.2m present in our EDs every year.”
He said the change in how we deal with emergency medicine has already been implemented in the UK and that this proposal is essentially a replication of that.
Under the previous health minister, Leo Varadkar, the Policy on a Trauma Network for Ireland steering group was established. Its aim was to ensure people who suffer traumatic injuries have quicker access to the services best-suited to meeting their specialised needs and that more patients survive as a result.
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