No plans in place for heart attack patients

Cath lab to close for three months for upgrade works
Talks ongoing for all emergency patients to be transferred to Cork

Eoghan Dalton Reports

No plans have yet been finalised for cardiac patients during the impending three months that University Hospital Waterford’s cath lab will be closed.
The single cath lab at University Hospital Waterford will be closed to allow maintenance work and equipment upgrading take place.A spokesperson for the hospital said yesterday evening that the existing main cath lab is now 12 years old and funding of €850,000 has been secured to carry out works. The closure of the cath lab at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) for three months has been greeted with widespread dismay. Voicing his fears, Waterford TD David Cullinne (SF) said a senior representative of the South and West Hospital Group has confirmed to him that that discussions are ongoing between UHW and Cork University Hospital on contingency plans.

“This will involve opening the Modular [lab] from three days a week to five days a week. It may also involve all PPCI (Emergency Cardiac Care) for UHW patients being carried out in Cork.”The closure has been described as “beyond reprehensible” by the chairman of campaign group Healthcare Equality for the South East, Cllr Matt Shanahan (Ind). He said that if heart attack patients must travel to Cork for emergency treatment, it will mean many of them will suffer “additional avoidable cardiac muscle damage and poorer health outcomes”.

Deputy David Cullinane

Deputy David Cullinane

Regarding arrangements for patients, the hospital said: “The options to manage patients during the equipment installation and upgrading is currently being discussed and involves the expertise of the Cardiology Team. It is estimated that the upgrading will take between 10 to 12 weeks to complete.“The hospital will provide further details once commencement dates and patient management arrangements are agreed.”

Deputy Cullinane said the Minister for Health “dragged his feet for too long on delivering a second cath lab and had he given the green light and approval for a second Lab two years ago, it would be delivered by now and patients would not be without a vital service”.
He continued: “This demonstrates again having one fully operational Lab is insufficient and creates a single point of failure.

“Once the single lab is out of service patients are left without a service also. This could have been avoided if the Minister had listened to politicians and campaigners and delivered the second permanent Lab years ago.”The closure has also been criticised by South East Patient Advocacy Group: “This is a very sinister move and could prove to be a death sentence for anybody in the South East who may be unfortunate enough to suffer a heart attack during this time, as it means UHW will not be capable of inserting stents for heart attack patients.

“SEPAG is calling on the SSWHG to immediately equip the modular cath lab currently on site at UHW to enable it to carry out PPCI services in the intervening period.”If the HSE fails to do this” said Hilary O’Neill Chairperson of SEPAG, “they are guilty of wilful neglect and they will knowingly be responsible for untold irreversible but preventable damage to people’s hearts or even death.”

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