‘Heart patients’ lives are being put at risk’ - Pair raced to Cork as protesters have say on cath service
Two patients' lives were placed in danger when they had to be transferred to Cork from Waterford Hospital for cardiac intervention.
The transfer came as thousands protested against the lack of a 24-hour cath service in University Hospital Waterford (UHW) over the weekend.
Patients are currently being referred to Cork University Hospital for cardiac PCI interventions.
This is despite the fact it is medically accepted a person requiring such urgent medical treatment has a 90-minute window post heart attack if survival is to be guaranteed.
On Saturday, two patients had to be taken from Waterford to Cork for treatment.
One was taken in the Irish Coast Guard helicopter, and one was removed by ambulance because the aircraft was being used.
Cardiac services campaigners have been active in recent months on the issue of a second lab at University Hospital Waterford, which was denied last year after the Herity report was published.
The campaigners, along with Junior Skills Minister John Halligan, have maintained the terms used to determine the need for an additional Cath lab at UHW were flawed.
The findings in the Higgins report in 2012, meanwhile, recommend that a second lab is required for a population of 500,000 people.
Mr Halligan said last week that a review of the Herity report with pre-approved terms of reference would also take place.
He also confirmed that a mobile cath lab would be in place in a matter of weeks.
He said that the matter was finalised late on Thursday night following a meeting between the Independent Alliance and Health Minister Simon Harris.
"We have to keep fighting for the second cath lab," he told WLRFM.
"I have to be honest…if there was no mobile lab, I would see no future for me in government."
While the news was welcomed by the campaigning group South East Patient Advocacy Group Waterford (SEPAG), it has also said anything short of a second lab is unacceptable.
Up to 6,000 people took part in a protest in Waterford city on Saturday afternoon, which began at the Glen and finished at the Bishops Palace on The Mall.
"We have to ensure that no more patients have to go to Cork in the ambulance, and we know they can't get there in 90 minutes and their lives are being put at risk," SEPAG spokeswoman Hilary O'Neill said.
"There is no reason to be sending people a hundred miles away in this day and age."
John Tobin (55), a heart attack survivor from Tramore, said: "I owe my life to the Order of Malta voluntary service."
Mr Tobin had his heart attack on September 23, 2015, at 1am and would not be alive only for first-aid volunteers.
"They brought me back three times; the heart had stopped three times," he said.
"They had the (Coast Guard) helicopter ready to go. But it had to stand down because of fog.
"So I had to go by ambulance. Now, remember I only have 90 minutes."
Mr Tobin said that he had already spent 30 minutes being dealt with at home, with a journey of one hour and 50 minutes to go to get to Cork University Hospital.
"What happens if I have another heart attack?" he said. "Will I make it again? It's 90 minutes; it's all I have."
Dr Paddy Condon, of the group 24-7 Cardiac Care, yesterday said that "quite a high percentage of people will die from it (heart attack) - it's a serious thing".
"The problem about it that's distinct from any other medical condition is that it has to be treated urgently, as an acute procedure," he said.