No date for CUH's emergency helipad

No date for CUH's emergency helipad

A Coast Guard helicopter landing on Bishopstown GAA club playing fields close to Cork University Hospital, where emergency landings take place.

The HSE has confirmed a location for a new helicopter landing pad for Cork University Hospital (CUH) -  but no date yet for when the service will be available.

At a meeting of the Southern Regional Health Forum, the HSE told Councillor John Buttimer that following a review with an independent consultancy firm, a current staff car park on its campus has been selected. 

But Cllr Buttimer expressed his disappointment that the HSE could not confirm a date when the service will be available.

“It’s scandalous, absolutely scandalous and its threatening lives,” he said.

“We can’t underestimate the importance of this facility,” he added.

According to the HSE, a report was carried out in 2009 to address the "reconfiguration" of emergency services in the South.

The report recommended the closure of emergency departments in Mallow and Bantry, along with the introduction of urgent care centres and significant changes in pre-hospital care.

The report predicted that emergency care in remote and rural areas would be delivered through a combination of changes in ambulance care as well as the introduction of an air ambulance.

The HSE knows there is a serious need for an air ambulance service, South/South West hospital group chief operations officer Dr Gerard O’Callaghan said.

Some emergencies can be dealt with locally in some cases, he said.

“But there are significant cohorts of patients who will need emergency care delivered within time-sensitive periods,” he added.

“Care for these patients can only now be provided at Cork University Hospital. This requires helicopter transfer so patients with time-critical conditions in these communities are not disadvantaged.” 

At the meeting, Cllr Buttimer stated that the HSE previously were able to advise of a dedicated timeline but that no definite dates could be provided now.

“In the HSE own response, the reconfiguration involved the provision of an air ambulance service,” he said.

“The HSE in my view has failed to deliver on the reconfiguration,” he added.

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