Don't have a heart attack at weekend, protesters told
A mother-of-one who suffered a terrifying heart scare has warned that the south east must be offered more specialist cover outside of office hours.
Jennifer Pheasey (41) and her family turned out at the 24-7 Our Lives Matter protest in Waterford city on Saturday to highlight the issue.
She revealed how she turned up at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) with chest pains on a Friday evening in April 2014.
By the time she arrived at the cardiac unit, it had closed for the weekend.
Her pains turned out to be due to a near-total blockage of a main artery.
The Waterford woman spent the weekend in hospital to await tests on the Monday, more than 60 hours later.
Her father Willie, a retired firefighter, could not believe it when he learned that the cath lab at UHW is open only from Monday to Friday.
Ms Pheasey added: "It's not just Waterford. It's all the surrounding area.
"Everybody is entitled, if they get into trouble, to get their cardiac procedure done."
She said she gets "great" treatment from the medics at UHW, but that the out of hours cardiac care is just not available.
"We want a 24-7 cath lab for the south-east that can facilitate everybody."
More than 2,000 people braved torrential rain in Waterford at the rally on Saturday.
Junior minister for training John Halligan took part in the march for a second cardiac cath lab at University Hospital Waterford.
He has threatened to leave the Government over the issue - which was included in the programme for government pending a review.
He said that his position regarding his place in Government being dependent on the issue remained "absolutely, totally" entrenched.
Hilary O'Neill, of the South-East Patient Advocacy Group, said: "Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Carlow has one part-time cath lab. This is expected to meet the needs of 500,000 people.
"It's only open from nine to five, Monday to Friday. So please, any of you here today do not have a heart attack. Because you will not get to Cork, especially in this traffic, in the requisite 90 minutes.
"Yes, you heard me right. We only have cardiac services, nine to five, Monday to Friday."
Health Minister Simon Harris has backed the Herity Report's findings that Waterford does not need a second cath lab.
He also warned there can be no political interference in strategic healthcare planning.