Over 2,000 people protest for delivery of 24/7 service
Eoghan Dalton Reports

Over 2,000 people turned out in support of 24/7 cardiac care facilities for the South East on Saturday last, with campaigners coming together from disparate groups to march from the Williamstown Centre to UHW.
Speaking to the crowd assembled at t he close of the ‘Have a Heart Day’ walk, Matt Shanahan from Health Equality for the South East noted that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had promised a regional review of cardiology services when he opened a new facility at Bausch & Lomb in Waterford last summer. “[The] Government’s actions over the coming weeks will tell this region much, much about how it prices honour,” he said.
It was confirmed only a day prior to the march that the mobile cath lab will remain open despite being scheduled to be removed this week. Almost 500 angiograms have taken place since its arrival last October to address the stagnant waiting lists for cardiology procedures.

John, George and Alice Cullen pictured at last Saturday's protest. 	| Photos: Mick Wall

John, George and Alice Cullen pictured at last Saturday's protest. | Photos: Mick Wall

The South/South-West Hospital Group said it will allow time for the group “to review the recruitment required to meet the existing cath lab operating hours, and to develop a plan to ensure the recommendations of the Herity report in this regard are implemented”.
News of the mobile cath lab’s 20-week extension was broadly welcomed by campaigners and politicians, with Deputy Mary Butler declaring that it’s proof a second full-time lab is needed.
“470 diagnostic procedures have taken place in the mobile Cath Lab over the last 20 weeks showing a clear clinical need for its continuing use.

“What this demonstrates, and what I feel the announcement of the extension demonstrates, is the long term need at the hospital for a second Cath Lab to deal with both diagnostic requirements as well as providing cardiac services to patients presenting at the hospital with acute cardiac issues,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.
Meanwhile Senator Paudie Coffey has “formally requested” that the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, consider a more permanent ‘modular’ cath lab for the hospital pending the completion of the National Review of Cardiology Services.

Eva and Martin Howlett at the 'Have a Heart' march.

Eva and Martin Howlett at the 'Have a Heart' march.

He said that the extension was a sign of good teamwork between Waterford’s members of the Oireachtas, including Deputy John Halligan, Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Deputy David Cullinane and Deputy Mary Butler.
Similarly, Minister of State John Halligan praised the cross-party approach taken. “I should stress that this is an interim measure and is by no means a substitute for a second permanent cath lab in the long term. However it is welcome news for the hundreds of patients who will require an angiogram at UHW this year.

“Waterford Oireachtas members are committed to working together towards a permanent second cath lab and 24/7 cardiac care at UHW and we have a further meeting with Minister Harris next Wednesday to discuss the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services, which will include elective as well as urgent and emergency treatment of cardiac disease. Workings and data from the mobile lab will be fed into the National Review and I believe its impact on waiting lists already points to the demand for a second, permanent lab at UHW.”