Warning on out-of-hours cardiac policy


One of the State’s leading consultant cardiologists has warned that lives are being put at risk by a “disastrous” policy to transport out-of-hours heart attack patients from Limerick to hospital in Galway.

Dr Brendan Meany was reacting to a policy implemented earlier this month whereby on weekends and after 5pm on weekdays, ambulance crews have been instructed to bring some cardiac patients to University College Hospital in Galway instead of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick.

According to Dr Meany, the decision to bypass the Limerick hospital, a designated centre of excellence for the midwest, would result in a disaster.

“It’s one thing bypassing small hospitals but to pass by a hospital with staff and expertise is simply wrong. We all know about the ‘golden hour’ and you will not make it to Galway in an hour,” he said. “I guarantee there will be a disaster. A very sick patient will be transferred and he will suffer cardiac arrest en route. Ambulance personnel will have to spend 40 minutes resuscitating him and he will be brain dead on arrival to hospital.”

According to Dr Meany, the Mid-Western Regional Hospital has one of the busiest heart-attack units in the State. He said the facilities and expert staff were available to provide 24/7 care in Limerick but ancillary staff were not being provided.