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Family calls for improved cardiac services at Waterford after man dies during ambulance transfer

His sister says Thomas Power (40) wouldn’t have died had the cath lab been open on Sundays.

Image: RollingNews.ie

A MAN DIED during an ambulance transfer between hospitals in Waterford and Cork at the weekend, the HSE has confirmed.

His family has said Thomas Power (40) would still be alive had the cath lab been open at University Hospital Waterford when he sought help on Sunday.

There has been a long-running campaign for increased cardiac services at the hospital, and for increased hours of operation for the existing lab. A catheterisation lab helps visualise arteries and treat any heart problems found.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline yesterday, Catherine Power explained how Thomas had gone to his local hospital suffering from pains in his chest.

Thomas’s wife called Catherine to tell her that he was being transferred to Cork, as the cath lab wasn’t open at the time.

They expected him to be in Cork for the night, but weren’t too concerned as “he’s a healthy man,” his sister said.

Catherine learned in a later phone call that her brother had died in an ambulance around 30 minutes after leaving hospital in Waterford.

University Hospital Waterford confirmed in a statement that a male patient who was in transit to Cork, following an initial assessment at its emergency department, was pronounced dead on arrival at CUH.

The hospital said it extended its sympathies to the family of the deceased.

“We had to go down to Cork and see him and identify him – just be with him and say our goodbyes,” his sister told Liveline.

It took us three hours… How is an ambulance meant to get down here on these bad roads and we have a cath lab sitting there empty at weekends?

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Catherine, who told the programme she had called in to raise awareness of the issue, called for the lab to be opened at weekends.

Thomas was newly married, she said – and his wife is expecting their first baby.

The campaign for a second cath lab at Waterford was the focus of a major political dispute last year. Local TD John Halligan – a junior minister – has long campaigned for increased cardiac services at the hospital, and the Independent Alliance member’s demands put his membership of the government in doubt.

A consultant cardiologist commissioned to conduct an independent review of cardiac services at UHW found that there was no need for a second such lab. He did, however, recommend investment in the existing lab.

Halligan announced in January he had secured a mobile cath lab for the hospital. The HSE is expected to seek tenders for the mobile lab this week.

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Daragh Brophy

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