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Mater's new 'super A&E' ready to open

THE accident and emergency unit at the Mater Hospital will temporarily shut on Sunday to allow for the opening of a new 'super casualty' unit.

DURING the switchover, ambulances will be diverted to other city hospitals before the state-of-the-art unit begins taking patients on Sunday night.

The existing casualty unit, one of the busiest in Ireland, has been the subject of lengthy protests about inadequate conditions for patients and families.

Junior Foreign Minister Joe Costello, the local TD, has been organising weekly protests outside the unit for the past decade to highlight its poor condition and demand improvements.

The Mater's Emergency Department treats 50,000 patients a year and one-in-five are admitted as inpatients.

The new unit includes:

• A resuscitation room which can handle 60pc more patients than at present, reflecting the growing numbers being brought in with critical illness and injury;

• 15 new single patient examination and treatment cubicles for patients with complex and urgent medical complaints;

• a dedicated CT / X-ray suite;

• an ambulatory care area for management of low impact trauma cases;

• much-needed space for staff such as a psychiatric liaison nurse, GP liaison nurse and a social worker.

A 12-bay acute medical assessment unit is also accommodated within the unit.

The new A&E entrance, located in the new Whitty Building, will be on Eccles Street.

The old casualty unit will close down for walk-in patients at 4am on Sunday and will cease accepting ambulance cases from 10am to enable a massive changeover operation to swing into action.

The doors of the new unit will open at 10pm.

Patients with minor injuries will be advised to attend the Mater Smithfield Rapid Injury Clinic at Smithfield Market, which is holding a special opening on Sunday.