Minister of state John Halligan, who has threatened to resign over services at University Hospital Waterford in his constituency, will be joining a protest march today organised by locals concerned about the hospital’s future.
Thousands are expected to take to the streets in Waterford’s city centre for a march organised by the South East Patient Advocacy Group who say they are highlighting “the failure to implement 24/7 cardiac care” at UHW which, they say, was “promised” in 2012 by then-Minister for Health James Reilly.
Local independent TD and minister of state John Halligan has already threatened to resign if a second catheterisation laboratory for heart attack patients is not provided at UHW to boost cardiac care services, and speculation has hinged around his position since an independent report did not recommend such a second lab at the hospital.
Asked if he will be marching today along with his fellow citizens, Mr Halligan said: “yes, absolutely”.
He described as “very disappointing” the news during the week that the HSE had reduced the hospital’s risk assessment for cardiac services just weeks before the independent report and said that a separate report some years ago had called for UHW to be upgraded.
Consultants at UHW have already criticised the report prepared by cardiologist Niall Herity.
“Right now delicate talks are going on over the next few days and weeks to see can we come to a conclusion with the consultants,” Mr Halligan said, adding that “this difficult situation” had prompted all of the interested parties in the southeast to come together to try and come up with a resolution.
It was put to him that Minister for Health Simon Harris has ruled out the provision of a second catheterisation lab at UHW. “Well, we’ll see, we’ll see… I don’t want to go into everything that has been said by the clinicians, that the report is fundamentally flawed. They’re hoping to meet with the minister over the next week or two and once they engage with the minister we have to remember that, when you get into open talks then anything can happen.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved