TDs in Wicklow and south Dublin have expressed concern over a withdrawal of ambulance transfers for heart attack patients to St Vincent's hospital.
Ambulances will resume transferring patients with cardiac emergencies to the hospital today after a break over the weekend, according to the Health Service Executive.
A note circulating within the HSE last week stated that, from Friday, St Vincent’s would be withdrawn permanently from its designation as 24/7 cardiac emergency centre. Patients would instead be taken to one of the two other designated centres in Dublin, at St James’s Hospital or the Mater hospital.
Patients who self-presented at St Vincent’s continued to be treated in the normal way, if staff were available.
The decision, taken as part of a redesign of acute coronary services, aimed to ease the pressure on St Vincent's, which has experienced a surge in patient numbers since emergency service at Loughlinstown Hospital was discontinued last year.
The new approach caused concern among TDs in the region.
"If this goes ahead, it would result in ambulances taking patients from most of Co Wicklow on an additional journey that could have fatal consequences," said Wicklow Independent TD Billy Timmins.
People Before Profit TD
Richard Boyd Barrett
said it “beggars belief” that a hospital the size of St Vincent’s would not be taking emergencies over the weekend.
“It is bad enough the people of Wicklow have to bypass Loughlinstown Hospital. Now they will also have to bypass St Vincent’s.”
Arising from this controversy, the HSE rescinded the decision and announced the reinstatement of ambulance transfers with effect from today.
A spokeswoman said the decision to withdraw services indefinitely was “premature”, as the normal notifications had not been made to relevant parties.
It is understood that St James’s and the Mater were not told in advance of the decision.
The staffing implications of diverting the service from St Vincent’s will be discussed internally before a final decision is made on its redesign, the spokeswoman said.