Dismay over Waterford hospital cuts report

Local TD John Halligan ‘has been led a merry dance’ over his role in Government

Minister of State John Halligan: a report commissioned at the request of Halligan advises against the expansion of cardiac care services at Waterford hospital. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill

Minister of State John Halligan: a report commissioned at the request of Halligan advises against the expansion of cardiac care services at Waterford hospital. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

News that services at Waterford hospital could be reduced because of a report commissioned at the request of local TD and Minister of State John Halligan was met with dismay in his constituency on Wednesday.

Mr Halligan had made improvements at the hospital his price for supporting the Government.

The review, which has not yet been published, advises against the expansion of cardiac care services at the hospital.

The hospital was inundated with calls from concerned cardiology patients as news of the review’s main finding spread.

“There is a massive amount of fear and confusion amongst patients,” one source said. “Nobody knows what’s actually being proposed and the Minister for Health needs to come out and categorically state what is happening.”

Online and on the streets, many were calling on Mr Halligan to walk away from Government, while others were demanding that the report be immediately published.

One woman – who asked not to be named – likened the situation to the campaign to secure a radiotherapy unit for cancer patients at University Hospital Waterford in 2002, when Fianna Fáil made the issue an election promise but an expert group subsequently said that the region’s population did not warrant its own unit.

“John Halligan has been led on a merry dance,” she said. “He propped up a government that nobody wanted and look what he got for it.”

Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler, who pledged during this year’s general election campaign that her party would bring 24/7 cardiac care to UHW, said it was a “bad day for Waterford”. “I wanted that review to be positive and I am devastated with the news,” she said.

“However, what I want to know is what happened between Minister Halligan saying that the review was a formality and this current threat of services being withdrawn. We were told that the numbers on the ground justified the second lab. Yet once again the southeast is being left behind.”

Willie Doyle, of the 24/7 Cardiac Care for the South East lobby group, described the news as a “blow to healthcare equality in the region”.

“What we wanted – and what we are entitled to – is, should someone arrive at UHW after suffering a cardiac arrest, they will get the same level of treatment as at the other cardiac centres, regardless of whether it is day, night or weekend. Instead, the southeast has been ignored and overlooked.”

Mr Doyle said there was an 18-month waiting list for angiograms and an average inpatient wait of 7-10 days for procedures despite the accepted guideline being 24 hours.