THOUSANDS marched the streets of Waterford city on Saturday afternoon yet again in the protracted fight for 24/7 cardiac care for the South East. As young and old marched with their banners in the South East Hospital and Cardiac Rally, University Hospital Waterford was delivered another ‘hammer blow’ with the news that SSWHG management is to close operating theatres during the months of July and August.
According to Matt Shanahan PRO of Health Equality for the South East (HEFSE) the step is being taken to reduce spending in the hospital budget, and appears to have been decided after the visit of the new Director General of the HSE, Paul Reid, to Waterford.
“The proposal will see up to five operating theatres close which will have a huge effect on those scheduled for months for surgery requiring re-appointment as well as ballooning further one of the longest waiting lists of any hospital in the country.
“News too that the cardiology consultant appointment promised by Simon Harris in September 2018 has not been progressed largely because it is being proposed that it should be a ‘shared appointment’ with Cork University Hospital requiring days and /or nights spent ‘on call’ there. This is wholly inadequate to the needs of South East cardiac patients and services and is further testament to the disregard prevalent in dealing with the demand needs of this hospital and region.”
The large cohort of protestors set off on the usual route from Ballybricken before turning down Bridge Street and onto the Quay. Public representatives from across the political divide, including Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin and Ireland South candidates for the European elections, Mick Wallace and Sheila Nunan, were among the crowd as they came to a stop outside Bishop’s Palace. Health campaigners and family members of those who suffered heart attacks pressed home the need for 24/7 cardiac care. Among them was Eva Creely, sister of Una McDermott, who suffered three heart attacks and sadly died three weeks later.
Sinn Féin Deputy David Cullinane, who also attended the rally, said a fully functioning second Cath Lab and 24/7 Emergency PPCI services are vital for patient safety in the region.
“We want UHW to have the capacity it needs to treat all patients in a safe and timely manner. The absence of 24/7 Emergency PPCI services is a wrong that must be put right.
“The recent controversy surrounding the mortuary in Waterford has again reminded people of the shocking lack of capacity in regional health care.”
In the aftermath of the protest HEFSE called on Ministers Halligan, Phelan, Darcy and Kehoe to ‘man up’ and “represent properly the needs of your region and its patients”.
Matt Shanahan continued, “That one of the largest patient catchments in the country is being serviced by the lowest budget and lowest staff complement of any ‘Model 4’ hospital in the country speaks volumes for their influence and interest to South East patients. They should reflect that they are supporting an overspend of €1 billion on the National Children’s Hospital – just half of one percent of that overspend would deliver 24/7 cardiac care to the South East region where emergency Cath Lab access continues to be offered just 25% of every week to heart attack patients.
“Government has failed ‘spectacularly’ in providing any leadership to counter the ongoing healthcare discrimination of South East patients and in our opinion this failure should not go unpunished in the impending local elections and the subsequent general election, whenever it follows.”