Thursday 19 April 2018

Consultant cardiologists and doctors from South East rubbish Herity Report findings

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

Niall O'Connor and Daire Courtney

A group of doctors and medical professionals in the South East say they “utterly reject” the findings of an independent review into the provision of cardiac services at University Hospital Waterford.

The doctors have today strongly criticised the review by Dr Niall Herity, which recommended against the provision of a second cath lab for the hospital.

“The struggle for adequate resourcing for the South East cardiac service has been four years in the fighting,” said  Dr Patrick Owens Consultant Cardiologist and clinical lead for cardiology at University Hospital Waterford.

“This report was the last in a long line of hindrances and procrastinations we have encountered in this struggle, and, as a result, we accepted the process of independent review only under duress. The report conclusions were deeply dismaying, but made all the more so since its eventual publication last Thursday has allowed its flawed nature to be identified,” he added.

The review itself has been at the centre of major political upheaval surrounding Independent minister and Waterford TD John Halligan.

Mr Halligan has threatened to resign and bring down the Government if a second cath lab is not delivered.

Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Junior minister John Halligan. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Tensions have heightened between Mr Halligan and Fine Gael following an interview he gave to the Sunday Independent last week.

During the interview, Mr Halligan  accused Fine Gael of a "stitch-up" and three Fine Gael ministers of "dirty politics".

He told the newspaper: "I will bring all hell down on top of them if they don't deliver this."

The Training and Skills Minister challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to sack him, but also threatened to "walk away" if a second cath lab was not provided.

"I am angry with Fine Gael in total. I am really angry. I am angry with the people I negotiated with - Michael Noonan, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar."

But he also said: "I am steadfast in my refusal to be intimidated by Fine Gael. I will not back down."

He added: "I don't want to bring down the Government. But if it takes that, I will have to."

The junior minister said: "I am not going to be f***ed over by anybody. I don't care if it is the man on the street or some guy threatening me. And you can print that.

"Somebody said to me during the week: 'Sometimes you have got to bite down and suck up.'

After the interview was published, Mr Halligan texted Finance Minister Michael Noonan to claim his views were misrepresented. He also told other ministers in government that he was taken out of context.

Mr Halligan did not respond to several requests for comment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is due to meet Mr Halligan today to discuss the issue. Fine Gael sources say he is fully standing by his Health Minister Simon Harris’s decision to back the Herity review.

But the Waterford doctors have called for Mr Harris to meet them over its findings.

“The population calculation in the Herity report is inaccurate,” Dr Owens said.

“From this figure, all the subsequent recommendations come. These recommendations hugely disadvantage the South East population, limiting still further their access to care, both by withdrawing the prospect of acute heart attack emergency care, and by profoundly under-resourcing the South East Cardiac Interventional Service in University Hospital Waterford.”

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