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Waterford cath lab closed to emergency cardiac care for two days due to equipment fault

The cardiac cath lab has been unable to provide services such as stenting procedures.

Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

THE PRIMARY CATH lab at Waterford University Hospital has been closed for the last two days and has been unable to provide emergency cardiac care to patients.

Emergency cardiac care – such as the treatment of those suffering from a heart attack – is carried out at the main cath lab.

It is understood that the closure of service is due to a fault in equipment.

A spokesperson for South West Hospital Group confirmed that the cardiac cath lab is unable to provide services for Primary PCI (used to treat heart attacks) or stenting procedures at present.

Patients diverted 

The statement said:

All the necessary arrangements for the treatment of patients requiring emergency treatment have been made and these patients will be diverted as per normal arrangements for out of hours services.
A number of diagnostic procedures have continued to be carried out in the cath lab. The mobile cath lab continues to operate.

The spokesperson said the required replacement equipment arrived at the hospital this morning.

“Following installation and the appropriate checks we expect it to be fully operational by Friday morning,” the statement concluded.

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

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.

Minister John Halligan told TheJournal.ie this evening that he is “deeply concerned” for patient safety due to the cath lab being closed.

“I have always argued that having a single point of failure (i.e. having only one cath lab) poses a serious danger to patient safety, as there is no backup if a technical issue occurs.

“University Hospital Waterford is the only primary PCI Centre in the country with one lab,” he said.

In September the long-awaited mobile cath lab arrived at UHW, providing diagnostic care for around 30-45 patients per week.

Halligan said that he was promised a second laboratory during government formation talks, however an independent clinical review found that a second laboratory was not required.

While the mobile cath lab has made an impact on waiting lists during its first few months on site, it does not cater for emergency care.

Halligan said the output of the mobile lab, which has been performing diagnostics at the hospital since 2 October, is a clear indicator that two cath labs are necessary at UHW.

“Despite the mobile lab having a significant impact on the lengthy wait times, the overall waiting list remains broadly the same – 450 patients were awaiting an appointment at the end of September and roughly the same are on the current list.

“Demand is such that the list is constantly being regenerated. All of which points to the need for a second cath lab at UHW,” he said.

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