WATERFORD’S MOBILE CATH lab is to stay open for another 20 weeks, confirmed Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan.
The mobile cath lab – which provides cardiac care to patients – has been in operation at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) since last October.
It was originally scheduled to be removed and closed next week, but this decision has since been overturned.
During the week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the mobile cath lab had shown positive results, suggesting that the unit could remain open.
“It does seem that the second mobile cath-lab does produce results and reduce waiting times for patients who need cardiac procedures.
“It would seem to me that there is a strong case to keep it in place, while the review on the location of cath-labs across the country is taking place,” said Varadkar.
Halligan continued to argue that the results of the temporary lab show a permanent one is needed in the region.
He welcomed today’s decision to keep the unit in place another 20 weeks, stating that it is working. He said it was established due to the “historically stagnant” waiting list for diagnostic cardiology procedures at UHW.
Since it has been up and running, 500 angiograms have taken place.
“Following numerous meetings with Waterford Oireachtas members, Minister Simon Harris has agreed that the mobile lab will remain at UHW to prevent another backlog of the waiting list,” said the junior minister, adding:
“I should stress that this is an interim measure and is by no means a substitute for a second permanent cath lab in the long-term. However it is welcome news for the hundreds of patients who will require an angiogram at UHW this year.”
Calls for a 24/7 service
The minister said Waterford Oireachtas members are committed to working together towards a permanent second cath lab and 24/7 cardiac care at the hospital.
The cardiac services in Waterford have been mired in controversy over the last year, with campaigners calling for a full-time cath lab to be opened at the hospital.
The main cath lab only operates for limited hours from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Calls for a 24/7 service were highlighted following the death of Waterford man Tom Power, who died in an ambulance en route to Cork University Hospital having suffered a heart attack.
He was forced to travel to Cork as his heart attack occurred out of the hours of the UHW cath lab service.
Halligan said he is meeting with Minister Harris next Wednesday to discuss the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services, which will include elective as well as urgent and emergency treatment of cardiac disease.
“Workings and data from the mobile lab will be fed into the National Review and I believe its impact on waiting lists already points to the demand for a second, permanent lab at UHW,” he said.