Saturday 16 December 2017

'Why are we treated as second class citizens?' Thousands pledge support for 24-hour cardiac services at Waterford

Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Pictured is Zoe Connolly with her sign. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Pictured is Jenny Ledwell from Waterford City. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Picture: Patrick Browne
Vigil at University Hospital Waterford. Pictured at a vigil at the enterance of University Hospital Waterford for improved cardiac services. Pictured are Sean Connolly (right) with his children Patrick, James and Zoe. Picture: Patrick Browne

Ciaran Murphy

Thousands in Waterford and the south east have pledged their support to 24-hour cardiac services in Waterford in the past week with a vigil at University Hospital Waterford tonight getting huge support from motorists.

Thomas Power (39), from Bell Lake near Dunmore East in Co Waterford, died on Sunday after being moved urgently from University Hospital Waterford to Cork University Hospital to have stents inserted.

Thomas was pronounced dead on arrival in an ambulance at Cork University Hospital on Sunday, as he was being transported for PCI treatment due to the lack of 24-hour cath lab cover in Waterford.

Thomas presented himself at the Emergency Department at UHW on Sunday last at around lunchtime when he began feeling ill. 

Bernadette and Thomas Power on their wedding day in September last year
Bernadette and Thomas Power on their wedding day in September last year

However, medics decided he needed to be rushed to CUH and while they have been hailed for their excellent work, Thomas died within an hour of leaving UHW.

The young farmer, who leaves behind a three-months pregnant wife, was laid to rest following his requiem mass at St Mary’s Church at Ballygunner on Wednesday.

A vigil by the Still Waiting health campaign was held at UHW on the Dunmore Road between 5pm and 6pm yesterday, in order to highlight the dangers facing those in the region with cardiac events outside of office hours and at the weekend.

At the vigil yesterday, Still Waiting spokeswoman Una Dunphy said: “We are not going to let cardiac care for Waterford to be run down again.  People power is what is going to get this.  People feel very let down.  

“The government are in a minority and are being propped up by another minority and there is wriggle room there.

“The dogs in the street know that the cardiac care [at UHW] is not good enough…what we need now is action.

“It is not suitable that people from the south east region have to be deployed to Cork.  We’ve seen the outcome of that this week.  We want a one-tier health system; we want the vested interests gone.”

Sister to Tom, Catherine Power, added: “We will fight them all the way.  We don't want to see any other family go through what we are going through.  We are fighting in honour of poor Tom.

"My brother died for money saving reasons."

The campaign for a 24-hour cath lab at UHW has been increasing its pressure on all politicians in the south east and in Government on the issue in recent months.

"John Halligan needs to make this a priority,” said Catherine.  If I'm in my job and I keep making mistakes, I get fired.

"Why are we treated as second class citizens?  Lives are being lost; people are dying.  It took us three hours to get go down there on Sunday.  The road is full of potholes.

"They can make this happen.   We pay our taxes...we had a better health service 20 years ago.”

The family will address TDs and Senators at Dail Eireann next month on the issue.

Waterford’s Sinn Fein deputy David Cullinane, last night said: “I think the people of Waterford are livid and frustrated that we have been campaigning now for years and it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

“It makes no sense that you could have someone having a cardia arrest arriving at hospital where a unit exists but the lights are out and you are told to go elsewhere.

“It is almost impossible to explain to people how that is the case.  We need urgent action now and not months and months of the can being kicked down the road.  I think that is not acceptable.”

The campaign for a 24-hour cath lab at UHW has been increasing its pressure on all politicians in the south east and in Government on the issue in recent months.

Groups such as the South East Patient Advocacy Group (SEPAG) and 24/7 Cardiac Care groups have been working tirelessly to campaign for 24-hour cath lab at UHW.

Meanwhile, Still Waiting Health Campaign group has vowed to continue to work to bring all of the groups together.

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