John Halligan wants Harris to engage with Waterford medics

Minister says consultants have ‘utterly rejected’ review of cardiac services in the area

Independent Minister of State John Halligan has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to engage with cardiology consultants in the southeast who have "utterly rejected" an independent review into the provision of cardiac services at University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

The review was commissioned on foot of political commitments made to local TD Mr Halligan and provoked shock by finding against the need for a second catheterisation lab and recommending downgrading of other services at Waterford hospital.

Speaking prior to an awards ceremony for the Government's Pathways to Work - New Links Training Solutions in Waterford's Granville Hotel on Wednesday night, Mr Halligan also said he regretted that a "life-and-death issue affecting the health of half a million people" had been overshadowed by speculation over whether or not he would remain in Government.

Mr Halligan said cardiology consultants at UHW “know the on-the-ground realities of just how dangerous the situation in the region is, better than anyone”.


The review by Belfast-based cardiologist Dr Niall Herity proposed the relocation of UHW's acute heart attack cases to Cork.

“The Health Minister has said that clinicians must make decisions in relation to clinic issues, not politicians. I respect that.

“Well now the clinicians of the southeast have spoken and I am calling on the Minister to show them the professional courtesy of sitting down with them and taking on board their serious concerns regarding a service that they know inside-out.”

‘Lives are at stake’

Mr Halligan confirmed that he intends to remain in Government and said he regretted that so much media coverage of the issue had focused on Government stability when “peoples’ lives are at stake”.

“This debate should not be about politics and politicians, it should be about patient safety and clinical need. And the fight for these clinical needs did not begin when I entered negotiations for the Programme for Government.

“It began once UHW was first designated as a cardiology centre in 2012.

“There is no doubt that Dr Niall Herity’s review is incomplete and I cannot comprehend how Minister Harris can accept it and expect half a million people in the southeast to simply move on.”