Beaumont neurosurgeons want to relocate if Mater gets new trauma centre

Doctors advocate co-locating national neurosurgical centre rather than siting two centres in two hospitals

‘Any in-between solution will result in avoidable loss of patients’ lives,’ the Beaumont neurosurgeons say in a letter to The Irish Times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

‘Any in-between solution will result in avoidable loss of patients’ lives,’ the Beaumont neurosurgeons say in a letter to The Irish Times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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Doctors at the State’s main centre for treating patients with brain injuries want to move hospital if the Government goes ahead with the creation of a major trauma centre at the Mater hospital.

Plans will have to be drawn up to relocate the national neurosurgical centre in Beaumont hospital to the Mater “as soon as possible” if the Mater project proceeds, according to the 13 consultants at Beaumont.

“Any in-between solution will result in avoidable loss of patients’ lives,” the Beaumont neurosurgeons say in a letter to The Irish Times.

The doctors say patients will receive best care by co-locating the two centres, rather than siting them in two hospitals in north Dublin five kilometres apart. Co-location is the favoured approach internationally, they point out.

Last week, the Government announced a major new centre to treat patients with serious trauma would be located in the Mater. A second centre is being developed at Cork University Hospital.

Decision

The selection process, and the ultimate decision, has been criticised by doctors at Beaumont, whose bid for the project was unsuccessful. They argue it will result in a fragmentation of services and worse outcomes for patients, and that it fails to follow best practice.

“The international standard is to co-locate the major trauma centre with a major neurosurgical centre. This is to ensure that patients with the most severe injuries requiring the most rapid life-saving operations are cared for efficiently,” according to the Beaumont doctors.

However, Prof Tim Lynch, consultant neurologist at the Mater hospital, said moving the neurosurgical centre to his hospital would be “a big undertaking” and “not feasible in the short term”.

“I wouldn’t see anyone objecting to us working more closely together,” he added.

Prof Lynch took issue with the characterisation of neurological services at the Mater by doctors at Beaumont, who say their specialist staffing is much higher.

“The figures used were incorrect and frankly insulting. We’re not a Mickey Mouse department,” eight neurologists and a range of other neuro-specialists, who treat 7,000 outpatients and 1,000 daycase patients a year, he said.

Six Dublin hospitals were in the running to host the major trauma centre, but none had all the required specialties.

The HSE has described the process to select the major trauma centre as “very thorough”.