MINISTER Simon Harris visited University Hospital Waterford (UHW) yesterday (Monday) where he met with management and cardiology consultants from across the South-East.
During a low key visit, Minister Harris heard concerns regarding rising waiting lists in the region and discussed calls for increased cardiology services.
The Munster Express understands that the possibility of a mobile cath lab for UHW was discussed during the meeting.
Such a service has already been used in the West of Ireland.
Minister Harris said he “stands by” the controversial Herity Report which “fulfilled a key commitment of the programme of government”.
The report, which ruled out the need for a second cath lab, did identify the need for certain improvements at UHW such as extra staff, new equipment for the cath lab and resources for longer opening hours.
Minister Harris said he now expects action to be taken in relation to the delivery of these improvements.
In relation to waiting times, Minister Harris said he wants to examine each and every proposal to drive down waiting times.
The meeting was also attended by John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Halligan said there had been a ‘robust and positive’ discussion, with cardiologists updating the Health Minister on current waiting times and the challenges facing the effective day-to-day delivery of cardiology services across the South East.
“Minister Harris listened to the serious concerns of our local cardiologists and agreed to consider their proposals to address the stagnant waiting lists and revert back to us,” Minister Halligan said.
Whilst at UHW, Minister Harris also announced a series of new initiatives at UHW to help with winter overcrowding, including 15 additional beds and an additional five homecare packages a week.
Minister Harris said there is an “awful lot going well” in Waterford, including the ongoing work on the Palliative Care Unit.
He said UHW is “leading the way” as an orthopaedic centre of excellence and in terms of piloting a new model of paediatric care.
The Minister said that UHW has a “very bright future” and refuted claims that UHW is being downgraded at the expense of Cork.
He said he is looking forward to returning for the sod turning of the Palliative Care Unit in the New Year.
Reacting to Minister Harris’ visit, Willie Doyle of the ‘24/7 Cardiac Cover for Waterford and the South-East’ group said he was disappointed that campaigners had not had the opportunity to outline their concerns to the Minister.
He said he hopes that Minister Harris has taken on board the concerns of consultants from across the South-East region.
Mr Doyle said the delivery of a mobile cath lab would not be a sufficient solution, and highlighted that the staff needed to work in such a unit could instead be deployed to the second cath lab at UHW.
Meanwhile, members of the ‘South-East Patient Advocacy Group’ have announced that a second protest march calling for improved cardiac services at UHW will take place in the city on January 14th.