Wednesday, 18th October 2017
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Further to Ministers Halligans interview on local radio in Waterford last week, HEFSE would like to offer some clarification points on the issue of the proposal to place a Mobile Cath Lab in the grounds of University Hospital Waterford to address diagnostic waiting lists.

1.HEFSE believes the reason HSE (directed by Dept of Health) is obstructing the process of making a lab available as promised is that the additional throughput made possible by introduction of a second diagnostic Cath Lab has the potential to overturn the findings of the Herity report. This as a result of clearly demonstrating patient numbers that need and want the regional service (which the report did not recognise) and by demonstrating the increased efficiency possible by use of a 2nd on-site lab at UHW using existing staff

2.The emergency cardiac waiting list at UHW is again close to the numbers of November 2016, (785). Minister Harris at that time directed patients be sent outside the region to reduce the longest cardiac waiting list in the country (of which he claimed to be totally unaware). This emergency waiting list continues to grow day by day!

3.Senior Consultants only suggested the option of a mobile Cath Lab at UHW as an alternative budgetary and clinical solution when HSE management proposed to send patients to private and public hospitals outside of the region. This management solution was to be at considerable cost and impact to patients as opposed to caring for patients on site in UHW as recommended by hospital consultants

4.Presently up to 30% of appointments being offered in Cork are being refused by South East based patients who prefer to wait on the UHW list to be seen - this is because of hardship costs in travel, accommodation and care requirements for patients and families

5.Although the Mobile Lab would only carry out diagnostic procedures, this activity would free the main Cath Lab to carry out additional invasive and interventional cardiology procedures using the existing rota of cardiac consultants, thereby increasing efficiency without increasing consultant costs!

6.HEFSE believes the Dept of Health wishes to divert budgets for expansion plans in Cork and Dublin and they can only do this by diverting patients! The mobile Cath Lab in conjunction with the existing service throughput at UHW will jeopardise these expansion plans by demonstrating the need for this activity in the South East region. This need would require requisite funding in support as opposed to the Dept's pet projects in Dublin and Cork!

7.HEFSE also considers the installation of a mobile Cath Lab represents a threat to senior civil servants and private medical interests wedded to the policy of centralised health services in Cork and Dublin regardless of wider cost or impacts to patients needing to access the service

8.The South East region has the highest unemployment figure nationally - the downgrading of health services and withdrawal of funding will further erode the ability of the region to attract and retain inward investment and skilled talent in many sectors

HEFSE urges people living in the South East region to take back control of our regional health policy and our regional economy which will both be impacted by the loss of high level clinical services at UHW. Recent economic regional analysis has shown the combined South East’s Acute Hospitals budget is underfunded by over 125 million euro per annum, is short 1600 skilled medical jobs and the deficit is rising! Diverting more patients out of the region will divert even more health spend and impact further employment and the investment ability of the region.

The South East region is facing the imminent loss of emergency cardiac services in the regional hospital in Waterford. We are the only region in the country whose patients will be forced to travel up to 140 miles for both elective and emergency interventional cardiac treatment. This downgrade of cardiac services will signal a resultant downgrade of other key specialities over time with all attendant economic and social implications. This region must now stand and fight for our rights to equal access to healthcare and the retention and expansion of our key regional services. HEFSE is urging people to contact local TDs and councillors and demand they stand up for your rights to receive equality in this region as is offered to all other citizens in this country! Our future health and wealth are dependent on this issue now and if people fail to act now to support this issue then others not living in this region will decide what and how much is good enough for the citizens of the South East for a long time to come!

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