15 March 2006

Royal 'may become trauma hub'

BBC


An average of one person every day in NI is affected by major trauma

The Royal Group of Hospitals' role in treating patients with life threatening injuries could be boosted under new Department of Health proposals.

The department is considering encouraging more ambulances to bypass other emergency wards and head directly for the Royal in Belfast.

It said research showed people with major trauma do better if they are taken to a regional specialist centre.

The SDLP said it was vital that local hospitals could deal with emergencies.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone assembly member Tommy Gallagher said: "We want to ensure that there is nothing now slipped in by the department or anyone else that would leave us in the future where our important accident and emergency services might be run down or downgraded."

The Royal's role as Northern Ireland's trauma centre would be enhanced by the proposals.

Review

An average of one person every day in Northern Ireland is affected by life threatening conditions.

The department is reviewing its approach to the management of major trauma.

The Royal's trauma services could be boosted to improve patient treatment.

BBC NI health correspondent Dot Kirby said such a move would "see the Royal's role as Northern Ireland's trauma centre enhanced".

At the moment, many people with very serious injuries are often taken to the nearest hospital with an accident and emergency department, staying there for a few days before being transferred.

The Department of Health said research showed people with major trauma would be better served if they were taken straight to a regional specialist centre.

However, it said if it was judged that the patient would die before reaching Belfast, the second-best option would be one of Northern Ireland's other key hospitals: Altnagelvin; Craigavon; Antrim; or the Ulster.

At these hospitals, the patient would be resuscitated and stabilised prior to being transferred.

The department's list of suitable hospitals did not include the Causeway in Coleraine, the Erne in Enniskillen or Daisy Hill in Newry.

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