Thursday, October 13, 2011

Irish aeromedical center will not open on time

By MARY MINIHAN The Irish Times

AN AEROMEDICAL center proposed after Leitrim teenager Meadhbh McGivern missed out on a transplant operation in July will not be ready by the recommended date of today.

The Health Service Executive has confirmed the 24-hour National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre was not yet in place, but “the work that the center will carry out is currently being done across two sites”.

The 14-year-old Leitrim girl returned to Ireland on Monday after a successful liver transplant at King’s College Hospital, London, last month.

A new system to co-ordinate the transfer of patients abroad for emergency medical procedures was put in place after opportunities to transport the teenager to London in time for a long-awaited operation in July were missed after communications blunders.

A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), which found no individual or agency was in charge, recommended the establishment of an aeromedical center. It was due to have been set up by today.

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive said it and other parties involved, including the Defense Forces, Coast Guard and Crumlin children’s hospital, had worked “vigorously” since the publication of the Hiqa report to give effect to its recommendations.

“A good deal of progress has been made in relation to the implementation of the recommendations of the report. This is supported by the fact that a number of patients have been transferred successfully recently, including one last night,” she said.

“In relation specifically to the establishment of a 24-hour National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre, the HSE can confirm that this is not yet in place but that the work that the center will carry out is currently being done across two sites.

“An oversight group comprised of all parties is now in place, processes have been established and are working well, and once staff are recruited we will proceed to the full establishment of the center,” she added.

Meanwhile, a Hiqa spokeswoman said it expected the center to be established within two months as set out in the recommendations of its inquiry.

Joe McGivern, father of the teenager, said he hoped the center would be operational very shortly. “I hope that the delay won’t be too lengthy. I’d like to think it would be up and running sooner rather than later,” he said.

Speaking from Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, where his daughter is recuperating, Mr McGivern said: “Meadhbh is doing fine. She’s in good shape and that’s the important thing.”

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