Almost 34,000 children attended Tallaght Hospital ED in 2016

By Aura McMenamin

Tallaght Hospital saw a significant five per cent increase in the number of children attending the emergency department last year, a department which will be phased out following the completion of the €1.7bn Children’s Hospital in St James’s.

According to their annual report, paediatric admissions to the emergency department (ED) stood at 33,743 in 2016, an increase of 1,470 from 2015.

Tallaght hospital 9

Under the new St James’ national children’s hospital plans, Tallaght will become a ‘satellite centre’ and the emergency department for children in Tallaght will be replaced by a minor injuries unit.

The 2019 hospital will combine Temple Street Hospital, Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin and the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght on the one campus. Triona Murphy is a member of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group, which advocates on behalf of patients. She expressed concern about the removal of the paediatric ED.

She said: “There will instead be a minor injuries unit for children in Tallaght and Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.

Ms Murphy continued: “Year on year we’re seeing more children admitted through the emergency department in Tallaght. With this minor injury unit, we still don’t have all the answers.

“Is there going to be an ED consultant. Is there going to a specialist nurse? We don’t know.”

Dr Ciara Martin is the head of Paediatrics at Tallaght Hospital and a consultant of emergency medicine. She explained how the satellite centre, or urgent care centre will work: “We’re changing the way we deliver emergency services.

“We see an average of 100 children a day at the emergency department. Three to four of these children need an emergency service that requires specialist care or intensive care. It’s better to have them in one place in the city.

Dr Martin said that there would be an emergency consultant present at the urgent care centre from 8am until midnight.

The waiting list figures for the paediatric outpatient department in Tallaght rose 15 per cent from 4,627 to 5,470 in 2016. The number of children waiting over 12 months to be seen by the OPD rose to 917 from 438 in 2016.

Dr Martin said that the urgent care centre would get the right people seen quicker, especially by the outpatient department.

She continued: “We’re expanding our general paediatricians to 25 in the city – this will provide round-the-clock care and get the right people seen more quickly.

Dr Martin also assured that the 380 beds for the Children’s Hospital in St James’ had the projected population increase in mind and were enough.

Triona Murphy said that the fracture clinic for children remained a problem following the absence of a consultant in 2016, with many parents of children with broken bones not receiving appointments and having to attend Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Dr Martin stated: “We had a difficult year last year. We have a locum consultant now, which we’re 100 per cent sure has made the service better.

“We’re hoping with the urgent care centre in place that will see a clinic delivered five days a week, with a consultation within four days.”

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