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National Ambulance Service launches nurse-led children’s repatriation service

 A woman wearing ambulance service work clothes standing beside a boy strapped into a chair, both are in the back of an ambulance.

“The new IPATS (Irish Paediatric Acute Transport Service)  Repatriation Service aims to provide care and support for children and families during a very stressful time. It also ensures a flow of children into and out of the specialist hospitals so that every child can get the most appropriate care when they need it most,” according to Anne McCabe, Director of Nursing, NASCCRS (Critical Care and Retrieval Service) and NEOC (National Emergency Operations Centre).

Anne continued: “When a child is transferred to Dublin it is often part of a ‘sharing of care’ model between CHI (Children’s Health Ireland) and a regional hospital that aims to deliver the right care to the child, in the right place, at the right time. When a child no longer needs specialist services in a CHI hospital, they can be safely moved back to their local hospital and medical team, close to their home and family."

“A child will only be referred to the IPATS Repatriation Service team if they are fully stabilised, have seen all the specialist teams they need, and have had any special tests and procedures completed or booked. Often the transfer back is to complete a course of antibiotics or to finish fully weaning them off oxygen or to get back onto oral feeds before going home. These types of treatment can be very safely done in regional hospitals.”

According to Dr Conor Hensey, Consultant in General Paediatrics with CHI at Temple Street, “the launch of the IPATS repatriation service is integral to the development of a high quality national paediatric network."

"It will ensure patients are safely and efficiently transported to appropriate care close to both their home and their families. It will lead to improved patient flow, and more efficient use of available resources.”

The HSE’s National Ambulance Service (NAS) recently established this nurse-led Repatriation Service to safely bring children and teenagers back to their local hospital once they no longer need specialist Dublin-based care. The service is delivered by the Irish Paediatric Acute Transport Service (IPATS) which is part of NASCCRS (Critical Care and Retrieval Service).

Before transfer, a care plan for any child being moved is made between the child’s consultant in Dublin and their consultant in the local hospital. Once both teams are happy with this plan, they contact the IPATS Repatriation Service and request the transfer to take place. This usually takes place within 24 hours.

The IPATS Nurse-Led Repatriation team completed 25 transfers in its first 30 days of service, including the transfer of 14-year-old Sean Gibbons. Sean was transferred to CHI in Temple Street by the NAS IPATS critical care team and was then brought closer to home by the team to complete his treatment at University Hospital Kerry.  IPATS nurse Pamela Allen, NAS Technician Tommy O'Reilly, and Sean’s mother Samantha were on board and all took care of him throughout his journey.

IPATS was launched in 2014 and supports the transfer of critically-ill children into intensive care and overseas for urgent specialist treatment.  IPATS is part of the National Ambulance Service Critical Care Retrieval Service (NASCCRS) which provides critical care retrieval and advice for seriously ill adults, children and infants.