Outrage was expressed this week by local Dail Deputy Brian O’Shea over the HSE’s failure to commission a brand new cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at Waterford Regional Hospital, urgently needed to save lives and prevent lasting damage to patients’ hearts.
Mr. O’Shea, Labour Party Chairman and its Spokesperson on Defence and the Irish Language, said the laboratory was equipped and a consultant appointed but the authorities were baulking at the provision of an additional €1.2m to recruit additional high calibre staff and to provide for maintenance.
He said he was shocked to learn the HSE had refused to provide the money which would allow the laboratory open next February. He commented: “This is another outrageous example of a chaotic health service in which money is wasted in some areas while in others it is refused for a vital service such as the Cardiac Catheterisation at WRH, which was needed by 4,230 patients from the region in 2005.
“These patients come from Waterford, Wexford, Clonmel and Kilkenny and had positive stress tests requiring referral for a coronary angiograph. Of that number, 1,523 needed in-patient treatment and had to be given beds in WRH for between five and fifteen days as they awaited an angiograph in Dublin or Cork. It is estimated that some 7,150 bed days were consumed by those patients in 2005 alone.
“Now we have the ridiculous and highly dangerous situation for cardiac patients in Waterford constituency and elsewhere in the south east where the HSE has spent €700,000 for construction of this laboratory and a further half million on an going basis annually, but allows the unit sit idle for the lack of €1.2 m funding, due to a blanket embargo on new appointments”.
Arguing that the policy was not only financially nonsensical but was also costing lives, the added that the services of such a laboratory were a vital part of the health service. “I understand that primary intervention in acute coronary syndrome is now well established as providing a one-third reduction in deaths from heart attacks.
“Opening this laboratory will speed up diagnosis and treatment and deliver the most effective management of cardiac patients with consequent reduction in deaths from heart attack and in damage to survivors.
“Waterford patients and those from elsewhere in the region would no longer have to travel long distances to avail of basic cardiac services such as pacemaker insertion or coronary angiography. Opening this laboratory would also provide an immediate reduction in the number of inpatient days and readmissions in Waterford and throughout the region for patients requiring cardiac angiography and permanent pacing.
“The HSE, Minister for Health and the government are all, once again, failing utterly in their responsibility for people whose lives are at risk, for the sake of a relatively small sum of money. How much longer must this scandalous, immoral and illogical behaviour continue”?