Waterford could lose key cardiac service altogether
Some Waterford heart patients will need to travel to Cork instead of their local hospital for treatment, under the recommendations of a controversial expert report.
Patients who have suffered a heart attack and need a special procedure to reduce muscle damage will no longer be treated at Waterford Hospital.
Heart patients currently receive the procedure, known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), between 9am and 5pm at the Waterford catheterisation laboratory.
But under the recommendations of Belfast doctor Niall Herity, the service will be switched to Cork University Hospital and the cath lab at Waterford will lose the service.
It is among the unexpected fallout from the review but is a separate issue to the row over a second cath lab which has brought Independent John Halligan to the brink of quitting government.
Dr Herity turned down the call for a second cath lab in the hospital - although he did recommend an expansion of the existing service, opening an extra eight hours a week with more staff.
But he found that Waterford was not meeting the minimum of 100 PCI procedures to widen arteries that needed to be carried out annually.
Dr Rob Landers, a pathologist who is clinical director of the south and south-west hospital group, said the report had flaws because it only considered a catchment of around 286,147 when it should have extended to more than 580,000.
"We have waiting times for elective cardiology extending to 18 and 24 months. It's a disgrace. It needs to be addressed rapidly," he said.
What is a cath lab?
A cardiac catheterisation laboratory is an examination room in a hospital with equipment used to carry out tests, detect abnormalities and treat arteries and chambers of the heart.
The lab provides cardiac procedures, including diagnostic angiography, percutaneous intervention (stents), pacemaker and defibrillator implants, and cardiac structural procedures.
Patients presenting with a heart attack can also receive emergency percutaneous coronary artery intervention (PCI) to open a blocked artery and limit the damage to the heart muscle.