NOTE – this story contains an important new addition at the end.
THE South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) has confirmed to the Waterford News & Star that the only cath lab facilitating emergency cardiac procedures will be out of action shortly to “facilitate the replacement and upgrading of existing Cath Lab equipment”.
A spokesperson for the SSWHG was unable to say how long the cath lab would be out of action for, or what level of cardiac treatment the backup modular lab would be able to facilitate.
“The options to manage patients during the equipment installation period are currently being discussed with all relevant parties as part of the preparatory work,” the spokesperson said. “The new equipment will be installed and functional before year end.”
Independent Councillor and PRO of the Health Equality for the South East campaign group Matt Shanahan criticised the way in which the news was revealed to the Waterford News & Star.
“It says volumes about the present state of our health services that HSE retained PR companies are the designated resource provided to ‘spin’ answers relating to legitimate questions regarding service planning and provision at UHW,” Cllr Shanahan said. “The fact that we have two cath lab facilities presently operational at UHW and yet it appears that equipment changes in one may mean considerable disruption to access for emergency patients is an absolute disgrace and is bordering on clinical negligence in my opinion. As usual all we will hear from HSE and those in government that this is an unavoidable situation which it clearly is not. What it represents is a clear breach of trust and broken promises to the people of the South East.”
It took the SSWHG four days to confirm to the Waterford News & Star that works would be commencing soon on the Cath Lab. It is nine days and counting since they were asked when the works were starting and how long they were expected to last, and no reply has been received.
Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has confirmed to the Waterford News & Star that the cath lab will be closed for 12 weeks, “leaving patients in Waterford and the Southeast without vital cardiac services for far too long”.
Deputy Cullinane said the Minister dragged his feet for too long on delivering a second Cath Lab and had he given the green light and approval for a second Lab two years ago it would be delivered by now and patients would not be without a vital service.
“The upgrading of the single Cath Lab is necessary and has to happen,” Deputy Cullinane said. “However it will involve closing the Lab for over 3 months and leaving patients without a vital service for too long. A senior representative of the SSWHG has confirmed to me that the maintenance work will take at least 12 weeks and that discussions are ongoing between UHW and CUH on contingency plans. This will involve opening the Modular from 3 days a week to 5 days a week. It may also involve all PPCI (Emergency Cardiac Care) for UHW patients being carried out in Cork.
“This demonstrates again having one fully operational Lab is insufficient and creates a single point of failure. Once the single Lab is out of service patients are left without a service also. This could have been avoided if the Minister had listened to politicians and campaigners and delivered the second permanent Lab years ago.
“I am calling on hospital management and the SSWHG to communicate fully whatever contingency plan will be in place so that the public are fully informed as to what services will or will not be available at UHW while the works are being carried out.”