Saturday 18 November 2017

Harris rules out second cardiac cath lab for Waterford despite Halligan threats to quit government

Health Minister Simon Harris ruled out a second cardiac cath lab for Waterford Hospital
Health Minister Simon Harris ruled out a second cardiac cath lab for Waterford Hospital
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Health Minister Simon Harris today ruled out a second cardiac cath lab for Waterford Hospital – but said he will build up existing services to tackle patient delays for heart procedures.

The minister made his first formal statement in the wake of a row which threatens the withdrawal of Junior Minister John Halligan from the Government over the failure to provide his local hospital with the second cath lab.

In a statement today Mr Harris  published the independent clinical review of services in Waterford by Dr Niall Herity, “a highly respected, Belfast based NHS cardiologist.”

He said: ”Dr Herity has made clear recommendations that a second cardiac cath lab at Wateford s not justified and I accept this.

Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Tom Burke
Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Tom Burke

“However, he also recommends investing in the hospital to enhance the existing cardiac services, including increasing the number of weekly sessions currently provided, in order to address waiting times and to provide improved access for patients.”

In a reference to losing some services to Cork University Hospital (CUH) he said Dr Herity also recommends that some services be provided elsewhere but that in order to do this a number of operational processes would have to first be embedded.

“As Minister for Health, I have to be certain that any change to how a service is delivered will result in improved services for the patients using that service.

“Therefore, I have asked my Department to address the implications of this recommendation by undertaking a national review of all primary PCI services with the aim to ensure that as many patients as possible have access on a 24/7 basis to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack.

“I expect the review to be completed by the end of July 2017. “

He said Dr Herity also recommends that new specialist equipment be provided in UHW to improve contingency for radiological equipment failure during a procedure.

“I am happy to provide the additional resources necessary to implement these recommendations, and as such, significantly improve services for patients at Waterford.

“These resources will provide for the following range of developments in the hospital, the investment for which will be reflected in the Estimates and the National Service Plan for 2017:

  • The newly refurbished singular cath Lab to provide an additional 8 hours per week of procedures, which will allow for additional patients to be treated and will lead to fewer cancellations.
  • The requisite staffing for the additional sessions in the cath Lab.
  • Radiological equipment including a portable fluoroscopy with an image intensifier which will alleviate existing concerns around potential failure of equipment during a procedure.
  • An increase in non-interventional consultant staffing so that UHW can establish a general cardiology on-call service where all cardiac patients (other than out of hours STEMI) are admitted directly under the care of a general cardiologist.  The HSE will progress plans to appoint the necessary consultant posts to deliver this service.  In this context the Consultant Applications Advisory Committee will prioritise the consideration of the 3 applications that have been made by the hospital, in addition to the two new academic posts approved recently, namely Professors of Orthopaedics and Oncology.

He said curing this period of investment and enhancement of services, the situation will be closely monitored.

“To assess the impact that these improvements have had on the volume of patients attending the Cath Lab, I will have a further independent review carried out in early 2017.

“Beyond Dr Herity’s report, I am delighted to see Waterford’s plans to develop the hospital as a centre for orthopaedic excellence. I am fully committed to supporting UHW’s plans in relation to this and for the centralisation of orthopaedic services for the people of the South East.“

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