Campaigners unhappy second cath lab to be built in Waterford will not open 24/7

Southeast health system like something in a third-world country – sister of farmer who died in ambulance en route to Cork

Photograph: Alan Betson

Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A second permanent catheterisation lab to provide diagnoses and treatments to heart attack patients is to be built on the grounds of University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

However, campaigners are unhappy that the new cath lab, which has been sought for years by local people and politicians across the southeast, will not be open on a round-the-clock basis.

The campaign for second cath lab at UHW gained momentum last year when local farmer Tom Power died in an ambulance after he arrived at the hospital on a Sunday afternoon with chest pains but had to be sent to University Hospital Cork as the cath lab in Waterford does not open at weekends.

His sister, Catherine Power, said on Wednesday that the southeast is still being treated differently to other parts of the country when it comes to cardiac services. “Our health system is like something in a third-world country,” she said. “It’s like a badly-built house, no money being pumped in and it’s starting to collapse.”

A decision on whether to provide round-the-clock cath lab coverage at UHW will not be made until at least the middle of next year, after a report on cardiac services nationwide is completed for the Government.

It is understood the second cath lab will be open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, in the meantime.

Simon Harris

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, confirmed at a meeting with politicians and hospital management in the region that the process to design and build the second facility is to start immediately, with recruitment of the necessary staff due to take place during construction, which will take between 12 and 16 months.

A mobile cath lab, which is delivering diagnostics, will remain in place to complement the existing permanent cath lab at the hospital.

Mr Harris confirmed that the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services, including the provision of 24/7 cardiac care in the southeast, will be complete next June.

After their meeting with the minister, Oireachtas members in the southeast said in a joint statement that they remain united in their “approach to improving the provision of cardiac care and all healthcare to people across the southeast” and will continue to work together to improve services and outcomes for all patients.

Meanwhile, a new community air ambulance service covering the south of the country will be launched in October.

This service will be based at Mallow in Co Cork and available for medical emergencies during daylight hours.