CORK University Hospital (CUH) is to become one of the country’s two major trauma centres but it will require a major overhaul, including a helipad, to achieve this.
The plan to reform the system was published on Tuesday and is expected to require an investment of €30 million over seven years, according to Health Minister Simon Harris.
As well as a helipad, CUH requires a CT scanner in the emergency bed department and additional bed capacity in the intensive care unit to meet the requirements as currently, none of the hospitals in Ireland meet international criteria as a major trauma centre.
“Something we’ve been looking for for quite some time now is a helipad and it’s even more important to see plans being implemented after the recent news that CUH is to be a major trauma unit,” said Fine Gael Councillor John Buttimer.
“Recently a spokesperson for the ambulance service questioned how people from remote areas would access the trauma unit and a heli ambulance, to collect people from the likes of West Kerry, Galway and Waterford, is crucial."
CUH identified a part of the hospital grounds, in the North East Corner on which to build a helipad around three months ago, according to Mr Buttimer.
“The problem CUH have had is that a roof helipad will not support the bigger helicopters involved in oil rig and coastal rescues so they’ve had to look at creating one on the grounds of the hospital,” he said.
“A helipad in the Northeast corner will result in a loss of parking spaces but you have to look at what’s more important a helipad or parking.
“I think the HSE and CUH, along with the city council need to look at parking solutions, maybe in the form of a multi-storey car park for the volume of patients and staff CUH deal with,” he added.
A Dublin hospital, likely to be the Mater or Beaumont, will become the country’s second trauma centre, with a number of sites nationally set to become lower level trauma sites.
The plan to reform the system also acknowledges the need for enhanced pre-hospital care and improved rehabilitation services as part the overhaul of patient facilities.
Mr Buttimer will seek an update on the progress of the helipad plans at the next HSE meeting, which will take place on Thursday, March 1.