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Government note reveals cardiac lab at Waterford hospital 'not a top priority'

Last month consultant cardiologists said the review into a second cath lab in Waterford was flawed and that lives are at risk.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews,ie

A DEPARTMENT OF Health briefing note for a review into the provision of a second cardiac laboratory at University Hospital Waterford states it was “not a top investment priority”.

There has been an ongoing row between Junior Minister John Halligan and the Government about the second catheterisation lab, which specialises in examining the heart.

The Waterford TD claims he was promised that a second cath lab would be installed in return for his support during government formation talks and he has previously threatened to leave the Fine Gael-led minority government if a second lab isn’t opened at University Hospital Waterford.

Fine Gael previously stated that the Programme for Government did commit to the development of a second lab if it was recommended from an independent clinical review, but added that the cardiologist who completed the review found that a second cath lab at UHW was not justified.

Halligan has said that he has spoken to the Health Minister Simon Harris this evening and he has agreed to come to Waterford to listen to the views of local consultants and to find a way to move forward on the issue.

TheJournal.ie has seen the briefing note for Dr Niall Herity, the Belfast-based cardiologist who completed the review. It states:

UHW has aspirations to expand PPCI/PPI services and a business case has been prepared.However, the HSE has advised that the provision of a second cath lab and a 24/7 PPCI service in UHW is not a top investment priority for the South South West Hospital Group.

It is understood that the priority of the Group is to upgrade decontamination facilities, theatres, Intensive Care facilities and staffing, and to ensure that the infrastructure across the Group is HIQA compliant

In a statement released this evening, Halligan said, “The contents of the previously unseen paragraph substantiate what I have been arguing since Dr Herity’s report was first published: that there was serious departmental interference in what was supposed to be a fully independent review of cardiology services in the south east.

The result of this interference has been a flawed and incomplete report recommending investment which would have little impact on the current service provision.

Some 581 people are waiting for cardiac-related procedures at UHW, with a waiting time of 18 months. There is a similar waiting time for patients from South Tipperary General Hospital and a wait time of over 12 months for patients from Wexford General Hospital.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent last month, Halligan said: “I will bring all hell down on top of them if they don’t deliver this.”

The arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that allows the former to lead a minority government is dependent on them having the support of at least 58 members of the Dáil.

Currently the party has the support of 59 TDs, including Fine Gael members, the Independent Alliance, Katherine Zappone and Michael Lowry, who was formerly a Fine Gael minister.

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

Read: ”When you have a child with a heart complaint… it’s a really, really frightening situation to be in”>

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