Press Release

Publication of Health Technology Assessment: Evaluating Treatment and Transfer Options for Patients who require a Priority One transfer to the UK

Minister for Health, Simon Harris has welcomed the publication of the HIQA Health Technology Assessment (HTA) which evaluates treatment and transfer options for patients who require a Priority 1 transfer to the UK.

Challenges to the provision of air ambulance services for these patients had arisen because of capacity constraints within the Air Corps and regulatory requirements on the operators of the Irish Coast Guard service. In the absence of the availability of the Coast Guard for these particular transfers, between the hours of 7pm and 7.30 am, the Air Corps provided the necessary night time cover until 6th November. The purpose of the HTA was to assess the options for continued service provision after that date.

Welcoming the assessment, Minister Harris said “This assessment is a key piece of research and I want to commend HIQA, their Expert Advisory Group and all who made contributions to the process. This study is an excellent evaluation of treatment and transfer options for patients, most of whom are children, who require emergency air transfer to specialist centres in the UK for an organ transplant, and provides us with a range of service options for the immediate, short and long term.

We need to ensure that, as far as possible, we are able to transfer paediatric transplant patients to the UK quickly, in the event that a suitable organ becomes available. The HTA advises that the optimal immediate option is to secure a dedicated night time service from a private provider.

I am pleased to confirm that the HSE has put a private provider in place from 6th November, thus ensuring that a 24 hour service continues to be available. My Department will work with the HSE to consider the best option to address the service need in the short to medium term. In the longer term, we will have discussions across a number of Government Departments in order to come to a considered position as to how air ambulance services are best provided in to the future.

Finally, I would once again like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Air Corps and the Coast Guard for their ongoing support in the provision of day time air ambulance services”.