Waterford University Hospital
South Tipperary people suffering a heart attack will have to travel to Cork for emergency treatment if the Government implements the Herity Report's recommendation to cease Waterford University Hospital's emergency cardiac service, a meeting of Carrick-on-Suir District councillors was told.
Retired WUH consultant Dr Paddy Condon of the South East Patient Advocacy Group told the Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District's monthly meeting that this scenario was “unacceptable” and made no sense.
Clonmel was 102km from Cork University Hospital (CUH) compared to 49km from Waterford University Hospital. he said.
Patients suffering serious heart attacks have a 90-minute window for treatment, measured from the onset of chest paints. The rural distribution of the South East's population meant it was not possible for people to get to CUH in time if you have a heart attack, he said.
Dr Condon's comments were made during a presentation he gave to the Municipal District meeting about the Advocacy Group's campaign to secure a second cath lab for Waterford University Hospital (WUH) and retain the hospital's emergency cardiac service.
He urged the District's councillors to use their political influence to lobby their local TDs and the Government to achieve these two objectives. The Herity Report published last year concluded there wasn't sufficient demand in the South East for a second cath lab and that WUH should cease its emergency cardiac service.
Dr Condon highlighted how the need for a second cath lab where heart examinations and cardiac procedures such as the insertion of stents are carried out, was borne out by the recent death of Co. Waterford farmer Thomas Power.
Mr Power presented to WUH's emergency department with chest pains on a Sunday afternoon and died in an ambulance outside Dungarvan while he was being transported to Cork University Hospital because the cath lab in WUH was closed for the weekend.
WUH's cath lab is currently open five days a week from 9am to 5pm so any cardiac emergency cases after 5pm each day and at the weekends are referred by ambulance or helicopter to Cork.
Dr Condon said the South East was the only region not to have a cath lab opened 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
He explained that a second Cath Lab was needed to provide this 24 hour service because the one currently providing the five day a week service at WUH needed to be closed once a week for cleaning and sterilisation. It was also required if several cardiac cases presented to the hospital at the same time.
Dr Condon said the second cath lab would require an investment of only €1.5m and involve the hiring of a number of extra staff and conversion of existing accommodation at the hospital. There was no need to construct a new building.
He presented to councillors statistics showing there was sufficient demand in the South East for the existing cath lab and a second unit. Last year, 102 patients were treated at WUH's cath lab and a further 69 were referred elsewhere because the lab was closed at night and weekends.
The year before 85 patients were treated at the unit and 90 were referred elsewhere.
In relation to the Herity Report, Dr Condon's dismissed its recommendations as "flawed" as its terms of reference only included cardiac patients from South Tipperary and Waterford and not those from Wexford and Kilkenny.
It also didn't take into account the cardiac patients from the South East referred to hospitals outside the region because the cases were after 5pm and a weekends.
"We believe the Herity Report shouldn't be considered anymore. Any further reviews should take into account the proper number of patients," he said.
He warned if the Waterford UH lost its cardiac emergency service, it would also probably lose more medical services.
Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District Chairman Cllr John Fahey said the District's councillor unanimously supported the South East Patient Advocacy Group's campaign.
Mullinahone Cllr Eddie O'Meara (Ind) said WUH's cardiac treatment services were so important to the people of the South East and the amount of investment required to provide a second cath lab at the hospital was just a "drop in the ocean" in the overall health budget.
Carrick-on-Suir Cllr David Dunne said he fully supported the campaign and confessed he was disappointed Waterford based Minister of State John Halligan didn't resign when he didn't secure WUH's second cath lab.