Thursday 18 January 2018

Lynch says she didn't make decision to use air ambulance

Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch
Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

JUNIOR Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has said she has no idea who decided to use the air ambulance to transfer her from Donegal to Cork last month after she was suddenly taken ill.

Ms Lynch – who was on an official visit to the flooded Letterkenny Hospital on July 31 – ended up being admitted to its intensive-care unit after she collapsed, suffering a recurrence of the blood-poisoning condition septicaemia.

She was taken to Cork University Hospital the next day by air ambulance, a fixed wing aircraft used to evacuate a person who requires immediate medical attention that cannot be provided at their current location.

Yesterday, she made her first public appearance after recuperating from the illness, when she launched a series of reports on suicide at the Department of Health. Ms Lynch said she was feeling well.

"Spotting it coming is the problem. It is septicaemia and it can be very dangerous.

"When they did the MRI they found I had a little area of infection that reoccured."

Asked about the decision to bring her back to Cork by air ambulance when she could have been treated locally, she said: "I have no idea who made that decision.

"You are not compos mentis for a few days. I have no idea who made the decision. What I do know is that I could not stay in Letterkenny. It was not at my request."

She said she was not in any fit condition to be making choices about where she was treated at that stage.

Asked if it would be more appropriate to remain under the care of hospitals nearby, she said: "I would never second guess a doctor who makes a decision like that. If you second guess someone like that you will probably make the wrong decision. I was not privy or party to it."

A spokeswoman for the HSE West said it did not comment on any individual patient.

When an individual is admitted to a hospital, their treatment plan within that hospital, and onward referral to another service if required, is a matter between the patient and their clinical team.

CRITERIA

However, she added that the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) can confirm that the Irish Coast Guard transported a patient from Letterkenny General Hospital to Cork University Hospital for treatment on July 31, 2013.

"There is specific clinical and geographical criteria which determines whether or not an Emergency Aeromedical response would be of benefit to the patient," the spokeswom said.

The Emergency Aeromedical Service is a joint project between the NAS and the Irish Air Corps, with additional support provided by the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopters.

"This service has responded to in excess of 520 calls since its inception in June 2012. This mission, along with all other public aero-medical activity in Ireland, was co-ordinated by the National Aeromedical Coordination Centre," she added.

* For anyone affected by this report, the Samaritans can be contacted on 1850 609090

Irish Independent

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