The consultant cardiologist at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), Patrick Owens, said the recent review findings on the hospital have implications for the entire South East of Ireland.
A review into the hospital by Niall Herity found that it did not need a second ‘cath lab’ (used for heart examinations) and that it should cease its emergency cardiac service.
“The primary issue is about PCI [percutaneous coronary intervention], but that is a very important component of the service that we provide,” Dr Owens said yesterday.
“Currently we provide it nine-to-five. The numbers of patients that we did, in the last calendar year, which was 62, is nowhere near the 100 that’s seen as the minimum standard.
“However, those 62 patients were done during working hours nine-to-five. Out of hours, which is a further 128 hours, there were 77 acute cases transferred to Dublin or Cork from within our catchment area. When you add those together, we are then comfortably above the primary PCI minimum requirement.”
Dr Owens was speaking on RTÉ News at One after the clinical review was published.
He argued that the half a million people who live in the areas of Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, and South Tipperary want to have their cardiac service provided as close to their homes as possible.
“The patients in the South East do not want to go out of the region, they don’t want to travel to Dublin, they don’t want to have to go to St James’s or to St Vincent’s or to Cork.
“They want to have their care in the region,” he said.
Referring specifically to the finding that a second ‘cath lab’ was not needed for UHW, the consultant stated that the finding affected people far beyond Waterford.
“This is not a second ‘cath lab’ for UHW, this is a second ‘cath lab’ for the South East region and that is critical,” he said.
“This has been described as parish pump politics, as a crusade on John’s [Independent TD John Halligan] part. That is not the case. This is something that directly affects the welfare of half a million people in the South East of Ireland,” he stated.
Dr Owens said the issues now need to be resolved in a “professional” discussion with the Minister for Health, as opposed to in the media, in order to move forward.
The cardiologist said the issue “demands” revisiting.
“I think the review was very good, however I think the population calculations, the risk piece and the primary PCI, these are all relevant, but I think our arguments hold water and do demand a revisiting,” he said.
Meanwhile, Unite trade union, which represents thousands of workers in Waterford, said it fully supports the campaign for full coronary care for the region.
The trade union said that its members are “angry” at what they see as a “further sidelining of the city”.
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