Update 3.05pm: The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has outlined the recommendations by a clinical review of cardiac services at University Hospital Waterford which include adding eight hours of procedures each week for the catheterisation laboratory at the hospital.
Mr Harris has said that the review by Dr Niall Herity has "made clear recommendations" that a second cardiac cath lab at UHW is "not justified and I accept this".
The review also recommended enhancing the existing cardiac services in UHW by increasing the number of weekly sessions and providing the staff needed for the increase, as follows:
* The newly refurbished singular cath Lab to provide an additional 8 hours per week of procedures, which will allow for additional patients to be treated and will lead to fewer cancellations.
* The requisite staffing for the additional sessions in the cath Lab.
* Radiological equipment including a portable fluoroscopy with an image intensifier which will alleviate existing concerns around potential failure of equipment during a procedure.
* An increase in non-interventional consultant staffing so that UHW can establish a general cardiology on-call service where all cardiac patients (other than out of hours STEMI) are admitted directly under the care of a general cardiologist. The HSE will progress plans to appoint the necessary consultant posts to deliver this service. In this context the Consultant Applications Advisory Committee will prioritise the consideration of the 3 applications that have been made by the hospital, in addition to the two new academic posts approved recently, namely Professors of Orthopaedics and Oncology.
The Minister has also asked the Department of Health to carry out a review of all emergency cardiac services around the country to be completed by the end of July 2017.
Dr Herity's report is available on the Department of Health website.
Update 12.38pm: Junior Minister John Halligan has said that he is in a 'difficult position' and is 'weighing up his options' after accusing the Government of reneging on promises to improve cardiac services at Waterford University Hospital.
“What I’m saying is that – if you sign up to a Programme for Government, and you make arrangements, you have to stand by them,” he said.
“I gave a commitment that I would stand by this Government on votes of confidence, that I would stand by them in the Programme for Government, and I would stand by them on budgets.
“Now, all I ask in return is the commitment they made to me to stand over that – and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Junior Minister John Halligan has stopped short of announcing his resignation from Government this morning.
While the clinical review of the cardiac services did not support a second catheterisation laboratory at University Hospital Waterford, it recommended some improvements.
Deputy Halligan claims the terms of reference were flawed however, and he has alleged interference from other hospitals.
He added that negotiations cannot go on indefinitely - and he will have to resign if the Government does not come up with a proposal that he and consultants are happy with.
Speaking to WLR FM this morning, Deputy Halligan says he will do what he has to - but has stopped short of saying that he will be stepping down.
"I signed up to the Programme for Government, for Waterford, based on what they had agreed with me," he said.
"They are now breaking that commitment.
"I don’t care what people say, I have to do what I think is right for Waterford.
"I’m not going to have it on my conscience in three years’ time that there’s not a consultant on call after Friday and Saturday and Sunday while I’m still sitting in Government."
Health Minister Simon Harris said that he has no further talks planned with Deputy Halligan, and he is sticking by the clinical review.
"Well I, as minister for Health, will not do anything that is not clinically recommended in terms of the location of clinical services," he said.
"I think to do anything else would be playing hokey with people’s lives and people’s wellbeing, and I don’t intend to do that.
"Clinicians must make decisions in relation to clinical issues, not politicians."