New website reveals travel times to 24-hour emergency hospitals

19 Jan 2012

Travel times to the nearest emergency hospital is a hot issue in Ireland right now, thanks to hospital closures, but a new website should be able to at least provide citizens with accurate information on the matter.

NUI Maynooth’s National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) has developed the AIRO accessibility mapping tool that provides an analysis of access to health, transport and education services.

The mapping system, which was unveiled at the annual conference of the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), includes information on access to 24-hour emergency hospitals, Garda/PSNI stations, GP surgeries, pharmacies, fire stations, dentists and schools.

The system provides street-level information on travel times using a small-area data system which was developed by the National Centre for Geocomputation at NUI Maynooth and was used in the 2011 census.

The analysis shows that local health services and facilities, such as GPs, dentists and pharmacies, are marginally more accessible in Northern Ireland.

However, access to more strategic health services, such as emergency hospitals, are quite different, with average access to a 24-hour full emergency hospital at 16 minutes in Northern Ireland and 21 minutes in the Republic of Ireland.

It also showed, in relation to hospitals, the east of Ireland is generally within easy access of such hospital services, with those living in Dublin City being less than 10-minutes drive away.

The exception in the east is Co Wicklow, with Arklow in Co Wicklow being almost 43 minutes, on average, from the nearest 24-hour emergency hospital services.  

By comparison, Bray is nine minutes from the nearest 24-hour hospital. Belmullet in northwest Mayo is, on average, a 68-minute drive from the nearest 24-hour emergency hospital service; Templemore in Co Tipperary is a 45-minute drive; Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare is 59 minutes, while Kilkee in Co Clare is 69 minutes from a 24-hour emergency hospital.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years