The confirmed delivery of a second Cath Lab at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) by Health Minister Simon Harris is a welcome step in the right direction.
However, it is important to recognise that it is one of several forward steps yet to be taken when it comes to regional cardiology services and that there’s further work yet to be done when it comes to delivering 24/7 cardiac care for the South East. The details regarding the duration of ambulance journey times from UHW to both CUH and St Vincent’s Hospital, as revealed in last Thursday’s ‘Prime Time’ report, were worthy of transmission to a wider audience. Yet one suspects a further debunking of the 88 minute average travel time noted by Dr Niall Herity in his report to Government will have come as no surprise to regional clinicians, and of little surprise to the general public.
Cardiac patients in Waterford, South Tipperary, South Kilkenny and South Wexford (at a minimum) ought to receiving Primary PCI intervention at UHW. UHW should be sufficiently staffed to meet regional demand for these services and one hopes that the installation of a second Cath Lab will prove the ultimate stepping stone to 24/7 cardiac care for our region.
While this objective has taken a welcome step closer to its ultimate realisation, the delivery of a Technological University of the South East is another ambition which regional stakeholders must not lose sight of. Waterford TD and Minister for Skills .John Halligan has invested significant political capital in fulfilling this objective, but we are going to have to see more meaningful support articulated by TDs and Senators in our neighbouring counties. To be fair, Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan, a WIT graduate, has made the case repeatedly over the past year and has extolled the need for a multi-county, region encompassing approach to this campaign.
Nationally, the TUSE bid is entitled to a fair hop of the ball, yet the funding allocation figures circulated over the weekend, which indicate the Waterford/Carlow bid has received €1.7 million over the past two years in comparison to the €4.3m granted to the Munster TU bid raises a serious and legitimate question. Why are such monies, via the Higher Education Landscape Funding Allocation, not equally distributed? We hope this is a matter that the region’s Oireachtas members will seek further information on.
Putting that to one side, the jealous and potentially divisive noises emanating in relation to the location of the TUSE’s potential Headquarters, which may serve to pit counties against each other, is utterly counterproductive. We simply have to work together and adopt a practical approach to addressing any issues which may need to be addressed when it comes to furthering the bid, including those raised by TUI members in both ITs last week.
Seeing campus developments for specialities in both Kilkenny and Wexford, in addition to further investments in both Waterford IT and IT Carlow ought to be viewed as building blocks in emboldening regional cohesion. We should not view them as hostile obstacles. There is an onus on management in both ITs to beat the drum a little louder when it comes to what the TUSE will make possible for the five counties of our region. This is a further platform from which Minister Halligan must extol a regional mantra. We’re better together.