Consultants call for second cath lab in Waterford
Simon Harris condoning inequality by supporting relatively restricted services in region
University Hospital Waterford has one cath lab, which is used to treat patients with serious heart conditions, operating daytime hours, five times a week. Image: Google Streetview
More than 110 hospital consultants based in the southeast have called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to approve a second cath lab in Waterford.
The consultants claim the Minister is “condoning” inequality through his support for restricted cardiac services in Waterford compared to the rest of the country.
University Hospital Waterford has one cath lab, which is used to treat patients with serious heart conditions, operating daytime hours, five times a week.
The consultants say Dublin is home to 18 cath labs, while there are six in Cork. In both these cities, labs in the main acute hospitals operate on a 24/7 basis.
A cath lab is where angiograms are performed, along with scheduled and emergency stenting. The absence of a nighttime service in the southeast means emergency patients have to be brought by ambulance, or helicopter when available, to Dublin or Cork.
The Minister, acting on the recommendations of a report by Belfast cardiologist Niall Herity, has rejected calls for the provision of 24/7 services in Waterford on the basis that the local population is too small.
Campaigners in Waterford are considering running a candidate in the next election if the Government does not accede to their demands.
The consultants, in a letter to Mr Harris, say there is a “gulf” between the views of doctors who care for patients and officials in his department, “who refuse to acknowledge or address the depth of our patients’ difficulties”.
Since the Herity report was published last year, cardiac services have grown busier and waiting lists have grown longer, they say.
The South/South-West hospital group, which includes Waterford, has redirected hundreds of patients on waiting lists in Waterford for treatment in hospitals in Cork. The consultants say this was done without any discussion with the patients’ doctors.
A third of patients have declined the option due to logistical difficulties.