Consultant says removing trauma services won't result in major changes at hospitals

This comes after reports of plans to remove trauma care from nine emergency departments around the country

A consultant in emergency medicine at Sligo University Hospital has said that the removal of trauma services in nine emergency departments across the country won't have major implications to the hospitals.

Fergal Hickey was speaking on Newstalk Breakfast about proposed plans to centralise trauma care, which would see patients treated in bigger and better equipped departments.

Under new plans reportedly being drawn up by the HSE Naas, Portlaoise, Mercy Hospital Cork, Mullingar Hospital, Wexford Hospital, St Lukes in Kilkenny, Portiuncula Hospital in Galway, Cavan Hospital and South Tipperary Hospital may have their trauma services axed.

The Sunday Business Post reported yesterday that the nine hospitals affected would still offer minor injury clinics and would be able to increase the number of elective surgeries they conduct as a result of the reduction in emergency services.

Fergal Hickey said that the plans make sense as "major trauma represents less than 1% of what goes to any emergency department".

He said the proposed changes would therefore not have any major implications to the level of care at the hospitals.

"Most of what comes to an ED can be treated through the injury units which will remain behind."

People critical of the proposed plans have stressed that the closures may see people involved in serious incidents, such as car crashes, having to travel longer distances for treatment.

Hickey said: "The nine hospitals in question do not have inpatient orthopedic departments, so if you are in a car crash you won't be brought there."

He also spoke about the issue of the number of emergency departments in the country, saying there are too many.

"It's a separate issue but it's undeniably true," he said. "For a population of 4.5 million, having 29 emergency departments doesn't make any sense."

He added that there is no point having a building with a sign saying 'emergency department' and not having the adequate skills and resources when a patient presents there.

Hickey said any changes made should "aim to get the best possible care for the patients that we serve".

Following the reports yesterday, there have been calls for the Health Minister to clarify if trauma care will be removed.

A spokesperson for Simon Harris told RTÉ that "No report or recommendations have been presented to the minister, and he has made it clear that there are no plans to close or remove services from emergency departments."

Newstalk.com has contacted the Department of Health for clarification.