The way in which trauma care is resourced in Ireland must be addressed by the next government and the Department of Health, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has said.
The term trauma refers to physical injuries of sudden onset and severity, which require immediate medical attention, for example, following a road traffic accident.
In early 2018, the HSE Trauma Steering Group recommended that trauma care be reorganised to provide a network of specified trauma hospitals as the safest way to deliver care to patients with significant injury who require urgent treatment.
That same year, a major trauma audit published by the National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA) showed that 28% of trauma patients were transferred to other hospitals because their care needs could not be met by the initial receiving hospital.
According to RCSI president, Mr Kenneth Mealy, "complex, time-critical care for trauma patients simply cannot be provided in small, isolated units".
"The best outcomes in trauma cases are achieved when patients receive the right treatment in the right place by experienced trauma teams as rapidly as possible. The current lack of resources and fragmentation of trauma care in Ireland is limiting what we know to be the application of best practice in trauma management," he explained.
He insisted that trauma care must be reorganised and properly resourced if patients are to be treated "in the most appropriate setting".
"It is also vital that we have the appropriate surgical workforce to oversee the implementation of the trauma system and the management of these critically ill patients, and that surgeons and clinical teams are given certainty about how they should organise and resource the trauma teams across the network," Mr Mealy said.
He added that he hoped that the successful reorganisation of trauma care will inform key decisions about the reconfiguration of other acute surgical services, so that the best outcomes for patients can be achieved nationally.
Mr Mealy made his comments ahead of the National Trauma Systems Meeting in the RCSI at the weekend.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.