Cork cath lab service set to expand while Waterford patients wait
Cork University Hospital, which already has two cath labs to treat heart patients, is getting substantial investment to expand the facility - while the same service in Waterford virtually stalls.
Confirmation that cardiac services in the Cork hospital, which serves the constituency of Environment Minister Simon Coveney, will be upgraded is set to fuel more tensions over the refusal to give a second cath lab to Waterford.
There are already intense rivalries between the two hospitals, which are now part of the south/southwest hospital group. Waterford Hospital fears it will lose out to Cork across a range of specialties and that its status will be downgraded.
The controversial Government-commissioned Herity report turned down demands for a second catheterisation lab - an examination room with diagnostic equipment - in Waterford. Instead, its single cath lab, which currently operates from 9am to 5pm, must be content with longer opening hours and more equipment.
It is also reeling from the shock that Waterford will also lose its PCI service, to widen arteries in patients including heart attack victims, to Cork.
A spokesman for the south/southwest hospital group confirmed to the Irish Independent that there were currently two cath labs in Cork.
One is an electrophysiology lab for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with an irregular heartbeat. The second is a shared hybrid lab where rapid response diagnostics and surgical intervention for cardiac patients can take place in the one unit. It provides a higher level of efficiency and safety for certain high-risk procedures.
"There are currently plans to increase the capacity in the second cath lab," said the spokesman.
Currently, patients who need urgent cath lab procedures after hours in Waterford must be sent to Cork or sometimes Dublin.
Doctors in Waterford who are appealing for a second cath lab said patients who were on waiting lists were being put at risk. Currently, there are 581 patients waiting for procedure dates in the cath lab in Waterford.
Due to demand on the service, the categories of 'routine' and 'soon' waiting lists for patients are currently static, therefore only urgent cases can be facilitated.