Harris announces national review after Waterford death

Reivew of primary cardiology services following death of Thomas Power (39)

An independent national review of primary cardiology services is to be undertaken in the wake of the death of a 39-year-old man while being transferred by ambulance from a hospital in Waterford to one in Cork.

Minister for Health Simon Harris announced the review in the Dáil and said it would be based on independent clinical expertise.

“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,” Mr Harris said.

He announced the review as TDs raised the case of Thomas Power, a farmer, who was being transferred from University Hospital Waterford on Sunday afternoon because its coronary catherisation lab was closed for the weekend.


During the debate Minister of State and Waterford TD John Halligan accused senior health officials of ignoring a Ministerial Order for five weeks which called for the procurement of a mobile cath lab to tackle waiting lists in the region.

Mr Halligan claimed they were “putting every obstacle possible in front of the expansion of cardiac services” at the Waterford hospital.

The Minister of State, a long-term campaigner for a second cath lab at the hospital claimed that a briefing note from a unit of the Department of Health explicitly stated a second lab was not a priority and “that interference has continued”.

He said that “though the Minister for Health formally approved the deployment of the mobile cath lab on May 8th, it was not until June 12th, five weeks later, that the department formally instructed the HSE to proceed to tender” and notified hospital management of the plan.

“For five weeks the Minister’s express instructions were treated with utter contempt by civil servants,” he claimed.

Mr Harris’s only reference to Mr Halligan’s comments in his speech to the Dáil was to say that “as Minister Halligan alluded to, the HSE issued a tender this week for a mobile cath lab that will contribute on an interim basis to a further reduction in elective cardiology waiting lists in UHW”.

The Minister stressed however that highly specialised services such as primary PCI (pulmonary coronary intervention) need to be carried out in a small number of hospitals around the country where the volume of patients supports the provision of a safe service”.

Sinn Féin Waterford TD David Cullinane claimed however that "we are being teed up again for a report that will again tell us the same thing" and "we are being sold a pup".

He claimed the HSE, the Department, the acute coronary syndrome programme and the South-South West Hospital Group were all saying that the population of Waterford and its environs did not justify emergency PCI.

Mr Harris however accused him of making a number of “potential slurs” on departmental and HSE officials. He said “my officials do their job to the best of their ability in accordance with all good practice in the public service”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times