national neonatal transport programme

About the NNTP Service

NNTP Transport Team

The transport team consists of :
  • A neonatal transport nurse
  • A neonatal medical registrar
  • An ambulance driver (road transports)
  • Air crew /paramedics (air transports)
  • The NNTP Transport Consultant when required
  • A NNTP Clinical Engineer when required.

The teams ( which include the supervision / attendance of a transport consultant during normal working hours and the supervision of an in-house consultant at all other times) are comprised of skilled and experienced staff from the three main Dublin maternity hospitals; The Coombe Women and Infants' University Hospital, The National Maternity Hospital and The Rotunda Hospital. These clinical teams are supported by a dedicated crew from the National Ambulance Service and crew from the Irish Air Corps when air transport is required. Each hospital is on call every third week on a rotational basis. NNTP team on-call schedule


Organisational Management

The NNTP is funded by the HSE .Since June 2013 a new governance structure has been formalised and the NNTP is now under the auspices of the National Transport Medicine Programme Steering committee . This committee is comprised of clinicians from sending and receiving hospitals, representatives from the National Ambulance Service (ERAS), the Department of Health and Children, HSE management, biomedical engineering, financial management and the NNTP Coordinator and NNTP Medical Director.  

How does the NNTP operate?

  • The programme accepts calls for transfer twenty fours a day, seven days a week, via a dedicated NNTP Transport Hotline' Number 0818 300188. This number connects automatically to the relevant hospital on-call for transport each week.
  • A designated neonatal transport nurse, neonatal registrar and an ambulance driver are available to set out within 40 minutes to any hospital for a sick infant
  • The team travel in one of the NNTP's dedicated ambulances, which has been designed and equipped especially for neonatal retrievals.
  • When air transport is required, the NNTP's air transport module is utilised in the Irish Air Corps' helicopters/fixed wing aircraft
  • The team provides stabilisation advice and intensive care at the referring hospital, prior to, as well as during the transport to the relevant tertiary centre.
  • The NNTP conducts one transport at a time, except in the case of twins when if necesary, both infants can be accomodated together in our road ambulance.
  • If two or more transport requests are received simultaneously, priority is given to the most critically ill baby and/or the baby in a hospital with limited personnel/resources to provide care for extended periods of time.
  • Guidelines and protocols are available in all units

Modes of transport utilized by NNTP

  • Road ambulance:
  • Rotary wing (helicopter)

Road Ambulance

  • The majority of NNTP transfers are by road as this is usually the most practical mode of transport in Ireland
  • The NNTP has two custom fitted ambulances and a back up vehicle dedicated to our service.
The NNTP Ambulance is equipped with:
  • Complete transport incubator system including: Ventilator (SIMV/CPAP), suction, vital signs monitor, syringe pumps
  • Nitric Oxide delivery system
  • Portable Blood Gas Analysis system
  • Locking device and tracking to secure incubators
  • Forward style seating
  • Hydraulic lift for incubator
  • Generator to provide AC power
  • O2 and Air supply >10 hrs
  • Capacity to transport 2 incubators simultaneously
  • Seating for extra personnel
  • Work top space
  • Powered cool box
  • Intercom/ camera / driver alert system

Rotary Wing (helicopter)

Helicopter transfer is the preferred transport mode when:
  • there is an urgency of transport in relation to distances >170 kms.
  • there is an urgency to provide a higher level of medical care than is available at the referral centre
  • adverse road conditions impede ground transport

The NNTP has developed a specific transport module for air transport that integrates into the Irish Air Corps' EC135 and forthcoming AB 139 helicopters. This lighter weight incubator/ventilator system can be loaded safely and accommodated securely in these aircraft and also into NNTP and other national ambulances.

For whom is the NNTP Service intended?

The transport service is intended for any infant up to the age of six weeks who requires an increased level of care not available at the referring hospital. This care may include, but is not limited to speciality services including:
  • neonatology
  • cardiology
  • surgery,
  • neurology
  • or a higher level of intensive care than is available at the referring hospital.
The majority of infants are transported to Dublin hospitals but the NNTP will also transport neonates to regional neonatal/surgical intensive care units nationally or internationally as required.