The process of transferring non-urgent patients to Roscommon University Hospital in a bid to ease overcrowding in emergency departments across the region commenced on Monday morning last.
The programme, which involves strict clinical and geographical criteria, will see a small cohort of stable medical patients transferred by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) for treatment.
The Medical Assessment Unit in Roscommon currently treats patients referred by GPs. Under this new agreement, this referral pathway will now be extended to include NAS paramedics.
The Roscommon Hospital Action Committee has welcomed the move, with Cllr. Valerie Byrne adding the committee’s support for protests at hospitals highlighting the ongoing crisis.
“It’s over ten years since we lost our A&E department in Roscommon and in that time the population of the country has increased and the number of beds in our hospital system has reduced. This has left extra pressures on the hospital system. Roscommon University Hospital can be part of the solution to overcrowding if staffed and resourced properly,” Cllr. Byrne stated.
“We hope that the ambulance service where patients are brought by ambulance and treated at Roscommon Hospital will continue into the future and that this service will remain in place going forward.
“The HAC always maintained that Roscommon University Hospital was an important cog in the wheel for hospital services. It continues to play its role and we look forward to it going from strength to strength”.
Commenting earlier this week, RUH Manager Mary Garvey said: “This pathway involves a clear definition of patient groups who would benefit from such a referral. This is essential so that all healthcare professionals concerned, including paramedics and doctors, can be assured that we are bringing the right patients to the right location”.
Meanwhile, Chief Ambulance Officer for the West, John Joe McGowan said the ambulance service was happy to expand the pathway to Roscommon University Hospital following similar trials in Cork and Ennis.
Independent TD Denis Naughten said he had been in contact with both the HSE and the Taoiseach last week seeking that the urgent care centre and medical assessment unit at Roscommon Hospital be used to provide rapid assessment, diagnosis and timely treatment.
“While this won’t resolve the crisis in our local emergency departments, it will mean that patients will get access to more timely care which will allow them to be discharged from hospital far quicker,” he said.
“This new protocol will be of particular benefit to older people who could end up spending up to 24 hours on a trolley in an emergency department”.