Nothing to fear from new trauma care reform proposals, says Harris

Ministers objecting to new plan to centralise hospital trauma services

Mr Harris said he was determined “to rectify deficits in trauma care.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Mr Harris said he was determined “to rectify deficits in trauma care.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

There is nothing anyone has to fear from the proposed new plan to centralise trauma care services, the Minster for Health Simon Harris has said.

Speaking on Thursday in the wake of revelations that a number of his Cabinet colleagues are objecting to the proposals, Mr Harris said the plan was an extraordinary positive development which was supported by doctors, patients and patient groups.

He said when his cabinet colleagues and members of the public read the full trauma reform plan when it was published next week they would see the benefits that it contained.

The €57 million reform plan would see the country divided into two trauma networks -- one covering the south and the other the rest of the country -- for dealing with patients who, for example, have experienced car accidents, head injuries or broken limbs. Under the proposals there would be a major centre for treating patients with serious injuries established in Dublin and Cork.

Within each of the two proposed networks there would also be a number of other trauma units which would deal with less serious cases.

In Galway there would be a trauma unit “with specialised services” but it would not have neurosurgical facilities.

The Irish Times reported on Thursday that Mr Harris’s proposals were facing opposition from Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring.

Mr Naughten has argued internally within Government that the new plan “fails to recognise the unique population dispersal around the country” and that there would be too many trauma units in Dublin under the proposals.

He has also contended that any reconfiguration of trauma services should not go ahead until proposed improvements in existing air ambulance services are introduced and additional ground ambulance resources provided.

Mr Ring has expressed concern there would not be a major trauma centre in the west, northwest or the midlands.

Mr Naughten has maintained that the proposed designation of Galway as a site for a trauma unit with specialised services is “inadequate”, given the large swathes of the country to be covered by the second trauma network, dealing with the areas outside of the south.

Mr Harris described the trauma proposals as “an excellent body of work” that had received widespread support from doctors and patients.

He said that about 1,600 patients required trauma care annually or about four per day and it was vital that received access to appropriate hospital as quickly as possible.

“You cannot waste precious time.”

Mr Harris said he was determined “to rectify deficits in trauma care” which were identified in an audit of trauma services published by doctors earlier this week.

“We do not spend enough on trauma in this country (and), we do not have an advanced trauma network”, the Minister said.

He said that doctors had argued that in such circumstances patient outcomes were poorer and sometimes patients died.

“Patients have been looking for this for a long number of years and I am determined to deliver it “.

Mr Harris said that when his colleagues and the public read the full trauma care report they would see there would be no dilution of services in Galway and that the hospital there would receive more consultants, more nurses and a bigger budget under the proposals.