Thousands march in Waterford for 24/7 cath lab and decry 'paltry' offer of mobile unit

Protesters say their campaign continues despite the government’s plan.

THOUSANDS OF people have come out in Waterford to demand a 24-hour cardiac treatment lab despite yesterday’s announcement of a mobile lab.

Independent Alliance TD John Halligan almost left government as part of his campaign for a second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford.

Yesterday, Halligan announced that a mobile cath lab had been secured, describing it as “a step forward”.

Despite this, a pre-planned protest by the South-East Patient Advocacy Group (Sepag) went ahead with protesters marching from Ballybricken in the city at 2pm.

The march is due to go along Bridge Street, across the bridge and ultimately finish at Bishop’s Palace where there will be a number of speeches.

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The marchers have complained that yesterday’s announcement of the mobile cath lab does not have enough detail about what services will be available.

“This announcement lacks clarity and detail as a further review is promised but no timeline is given and we all know what the last review contained,” Sepag’s Hilary O’Neill said ahead of the march.

A previous independent review of cardiac services at UHW found that there was no need for a second cath lab.

Yvonne Cooney of Sepag has described the plan for a mobile lab as “paltry”:

Forgive us for being cynical but we have heard it all before and until we get the 24/7 cardiac care our campaign will continue vigorously.

Organisers of today’s march have said that politicians will not be among those making speeches at the end of the march, but some have marched as part of the protest.

Local Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane was one and said that the government needs to come clean with fuller details of their plan for cardiac care in the region.

“A mobile cath lab  is not what we are looking for but is better than nothing,” he said.

“However, the details of what has been agreed have not been released. I have written to the Minister for Health asking for a full briefing on what is being proposed.”

The fact that the government failed to give any assurance or plans to right this wrong is further evidence that the coalition has a fundamental lack of understanding about the depth of the crisis facing the health services in the south-east and throughout the state.

Read: Questions continue to stack up regarding cardiac services at Waterford Hospital >

Read: Doctors ‘utterly reject’ report into Waterford cardiac services and say lives are ‘absolutely’ at risk >

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