Simon Harris pledges to accelerate review of coronary services

Minister for Health’s move comes in response to ‘medical apartheid’ claims

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he will expedite a national review of coronary intervention services following a meeting with Waterford politicians.

Earlier this month, campaigners for round-the-clock cardiac services in the southeast held a protest outside the Dáil calling for an end to “medical apartheid”.

The issue of securing 24/7 cardiac services had been escalated by the death of Tom Power from Dunmore East in Waterford. Mr Power died in an ambulance while being rushed to hospital in Cork last month.

Members of his family addressed the recent protest. Waterford is the only one of six regional cardiac centres that operates on a five-day, nine-to-five basis, rather than round-the-clock.


Cross-party motion

In a statement, Mr Harris said he had met with Waterford Oireachtas members in light of a cross-party motion on cardiac services in the southeast and "has agreed to expedite a national review of all PCI (primary percutaneous coronary intervention) services".

“This review will seek to ensure that as many patients as possible have access on a 24/7 basis to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack. This review will clearly encompass all regions of the country, including the southeast,” the statement said.

Mr Power suffered a heart attack but could not be treated at University Hospital Waterford because it was a Sunday and its cardiac service was closed.

His sister, Catherine Power, had said he was in "a cold grave" because "the doors were locked" on the catheterisation lab when he needed help.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times