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Traumatic Injury – Centralisation of Trauma Services


A recently published Government Report entitled “A Trauma System for Ireland” recommends the centralisation of major trauma services in Ireland.  The report identifies that the most common cause of major trauma in Ireland are presently falls and road traffic accidents.

Below are the key findings and recommendations in the report: –


  • The introduction of a trauma system in England has seen a 25% improvement in the survival rates for patients sustaining major trauma. Other countries which have introduced a trauma system such as the United States, Norway, Wales and Australia have also seen a reduction in the number of preventable deaths and level of disability among major trauma patients.


  • Currently, high numbers of major trauma patients in Ireland go to one of 9 acute hospitals that do not have trauma and specialist expertise on site leading to patients often being transferred to a second hospital for specialist diagnostics and or interventions such as neurosurgery, cardiothoracic or trauma orthopaedic treatment.


  • The current system may cause delay in patients receiving appropriate treatment and care and is considered inadequate by international standards.


  • The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) is the only post-acute specialist rehabilitation unit in Ireland which provides complex specialist rehabilitation care. There are approximately 109 beds available for in-patient admissions including those relating to brain injury and spinal injury. The NRH is oversubscribed with long waiting times for access to specialist services.


  • It is also widely recognised that there are significant gaps in community level rehabilitation services post-acute rehabilitation state.


  • Into the future, trauma care is to be provided in designated trauma hospital units. These hospitals will meet specified requirements in the provision of quality trauma care.


  • There are to be two major trauma centres namely Dublin and Cork. University Hospital Galway is to be considered for designation as a trauma unit with specialist services within the central trauma network.


  • Major trauma can be graded as low to moderate severity with injuries such as soft tissue injuries, simple wrist and ankle fractures and skull fractures without associated brain injury. Major trauma also involves high severity injuries causing prolonged disability or death and includes injuries such as major head trauma, spinal injury and severe injuries to body parts.


Ronan Hynes, Partner of the Serious Injury Team at Sellors commented that: “The Government report is broadly to be welcomed, particularly the fact that the proposed trauma system takes all elements of the trauma care pathway into account including prevention, acute hospital care, rehabilitation and community rehabilitation.  The centralisation of services will no doubt be controversial and it is imperative that trauma patients gain swift access to quality trauma care services no matter what part of the country they live in”.



For more information please contact Ronan Hynes, Partner at 087 933 63 60 or 061 432 348.

Published On: March 13, 2018

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