Press Release

Varadkar announces national critical-care ambulance transfers for children

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has announced the launch of a new critical-care ambulance service to transfer seriously ill children between hospitals.

The Paediatric Retrieval Service is now transferring seriously ill children up to 16 years of age to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, and to the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, from hospitals anywhere in Ireland.

“Up to now, transferring a child from a regional hospital to a national centre involved a doctor, often a junior doctor, travelling with the child and then back. This wasn’t always ideal for the child, and would also leave the regional hospital understaffed for a period of time,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Now there is a dedicated team of specialists who travel to collect the child, providing expert care for the child from the moment they arrive. The clinical retrieval team usually includes a paediatric doctor and a specialist paediatric nurse, along with specialist equipment. Equally, no hospital is left short-staffed during the transfer period,” Minister Varadkar said.

“The neonatal service has already made a big difference to cases involving newborn babies, bringing critical care teams to neonatal patients across Ireland and transferring them between hospitals. I hope we can extend it to adults when resources allow.”

The Paediatric Retrieval Service has dedicated resources at the National Ambulance Service base at Cherry Orchard in Dublin. It’s available to Inpatient and Emergency Department patients who need to be transferred because their condition is serious or deteriorating. This can include treatment for paediatric intensive care, burns, or neurology.

It builds on a hugely successful service for newly born babies, the Neonatal Retrieval Service, which has already transferred nearly 550 seriously ill new-born babies from across Ireland to centres with critical care facilities in its first year of 24/7 operation.


Further information

The Service works by sending a clinical retrieval team to hospitals anywhere in Ireland, where they first stabilise the patient if necessary, and then oversee the transfer to Crumlin or Temple Street under close medical supervision.

The operation is overseen by the National Transport Medicine Programme in Naas. The benefits include enhanced levels of patient safety and care, and a reduced average length of stay in hospital. It’s also a crucial step in creating an integrated paediatric care service in Ireland.

The Paediatric Retrieval Service is part of the National Transport Medicine Programme. The next step will be the development of an adult retrieval service, which will represent a significant clinical development by improving access to appropriate treatment for high acuity adult patients.