Two weeks ago we briefly discussed the sad passing of Thomas Power who could not access emergency heart treatment in Waterford University Hospital. Today Deputies Mary Butler and David Cullinane hosted a meeting in the Leinster House audio-visual room for public representatives at which Thomas Power’s sister gave a heart-rending account of the devastation endured by her and her family as a result of her brother’s untimely death. She used simple words to encapsulate the entire event, namely, that the doors had been closed to him in seeking access to emergency heart treatment or intervention. Thousands more in the south east are beyond the 90-minute window that cardiologists say is the essential timeframe within which to be treated from first medical contact. Others argue that it is less than that, but every minute counts, as the Taoiseach knows.
In 2012 a national assessment was made and Waterford University Hospital featured as a designated PCI, percutaneous coronary intervention, centre.
In essence, it was to be a centre for emergency heart treatment. The third appendix to the report identified the issues that would have to be addressed. Essentially, it stated that Waterford has the potential and needed a second cath lab. A configuration report by Professor Higgins again calls for an extension of the facilities at Waterford hospital in terms of PCI and interventional cardiology facilities.
A business report was presented in 2014. It was accepted by the clinical review team in the south east at the time and it was sent to the HSE. It was accepted and those concerned were told the facility was queued for funding. I spoke to Dr. Owens about this some time back. He is a very reasonable man. He, along with Dr. Colwell from South Tipperary General Hospital, Dr. Mark Doyle, an emergency medicine consultant, and others have all identified the lack of a second cath lab as a major risk to safety.
What happened in 2014-2015? Why was the second cath lab not proceeded with? Why was the essence of the 2012 report and the configuration report not acted on before 2016? Why has so little happened even since last year, when the Minister made commitments in here to give eight hours extra? Nothing has happened. With regard to the provision of the mobile cath lab, nothing has happened in the past 12 months. The national review we were promised has not happened either. People in the south east, in particular in Waterford, are very angry and they feel marginalised and alienated. They feel there is a lack of any meaningful response from the Government on this issue.