Family plan Dáil protest over death of man in ambulance transfer

Thomas Power and his wife Bernadette.

The family of Waterford man Thomas Power, who died of a heart attack in the back of an ambulance on his way to Cork University Hospital, will attend a meeting in Dáil Éireann.

A protest will take place outside Leinster House on Tuesday, July 4, at 1pm, while the meeting is taking place.

People will travel up from from Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, and Wexford to call for 24/7 cardiac care in the area.

At the moment the cath lab, where cardiac tests and procedures are carried out, only operates from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, in University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

Mr Power died on Sunday, June 18, while travelling from UHW to Cork via ambulance to be treated for a heart attack, as the cath lab in Waterford was closed at the time he was admitted to hospital.

His wife Bernie, whom he married nine months ago, is expecting the couple’s first child.

“He [Thomas] is not the first to die and he won’t be the last,” said Hilary O’Neill of the South East Patient Advocacy Group.

“All they want is for it to not happen to another family. They don’t want anyone to go through the tragedy they have had to go through over the last number of days.

A number of buses are being organised to transport people to Dublin for the advocacy group’s protest, which has no political affiliations.

Ms O’Neill said people in the South-East are “absolutely enraged” at the situation in the region, where there are no cardiac care services outside of business hours.

“We are calling on he Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to show some empathy, compassion, and decency for people in the South-East region,” she said.

“They know people are dying. We are being denied a basic standard of care.”

Mr Harris was asked last week about extending the cardiac care in UHW in light of the recent incident.

He said he is following the report written by consultant cardiologist Niall Herity, who found that UHW, did not need a cath lab open 24/7, but said that if the evidence changes, he would change his view.

“Professor Herity looked at distances, looked at times, and Professor Herity, as an independent person, eminently qualified, arrived at this conclusion,” said Mr Harris.

“If the evidence changed I’d change my position, but the evidence so far in the Herity report, which is independent, is very clear.”


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