Friday, 21st July 2017
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Minister of State John Halligan TD has accused senior health officials of ‘putting every obstacle possible in front of the expansion of cardiac services at UHW’ – including ignoring a direct order from Minister for Health Simon Harris to procure a mobile cath lab to tackle waiting lists in the region.

And he has urged Minister Harris to ‘get to the bottom of this interference’ ahead of a second review later this year.

In the Dáil this (Wednesday) afternoon during a Topical Issues debate on the death by cardiac arrest of Waterford man Thomas Power in the back of an ambulance last Sunday, Minister Halligan confirmed that a mobile cath lab will be deployed to UHW in September for 20 months, during which its usage will be monitored to feed into a new clinical review on the need to expand cardiac services.

This review will be done in consultation with other Oireachtas members and stakeholders in the south east and it will be carried out by a clinician outside of the HSE, Minister Halligan said, following what he described as sustained interference by ‘persons unknown’ within the health services to delay and prohibit the expansion of cardiac services in the region:

“Pre-dating the Herity Report, the HSE itself identified the lack of a second Cath lab at UHW as being an ‘extreme clinical risk’ under the HSE Risk Register. This status was downgraded by an unknown person in the HSE, prior to Dr Herity commencing his review.

“After the publication of the Herity Report, further suggestions of interference in the review process emerged. Dr Herity was given flawed and biased information prior to commencing his work. A Briefing Note prepared by Unit 3 of the Department of Health explicitly stated that the second lab was not a priority.

“It is my belief that that interference has continued.

“Though the Minister for Health formally approved the deployment of the mobile cath lab on 8th May, it was not until 12th June – five weeks later – that the Department of Health formally instructed the HSE to proceed to tender and notified management at University Hospital Waterford of the plan. For five weeks, a Ministerial order was completely ignored. For five weeks, the express instructions of a Government Minister were treated with utter contempt by senior civil servants.

“It is my belief that the HSE are a law unto themselves. That unknown person or persons at a senior level within the HSE are determined to put every obstacle possible in front of the expansion of cardiac services in the south east.

“I believe there is an agenda at play against the expansion of services at University Hospital Waterford that has nothing to do with clinical need.

“The presence of the mobile lab at UHW would not have saved the life of Tom Power. But there will undoubtedly be further lives needlessly lost, unless cardiac services at UHW are expanded. And this will never happen whilst myself and the other elected representatives of the region are fighting against an invisible force within the health services.

“We need to get to the bottom of this interference. We need to know why a deployment order signed by a Government Minister was ignored. If officials from the Department of Health’s Acute Hospitals Policy Unit 3 have to be brought before the Oireachtas Health Committee to explain the delays in deploying the mobile lab to Waterford, so be it. The people of the south east deserve answers. The Power family deserves answers.”

Cardiac services must be protected and expanded in Waterford – David Cullinane TD

Waterford Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane has published his comprehensive discussion document on the future of cardiac services in the South East. The document has been submitted to the HSE, the Department of Health, and the Minister of Health to inform and underpin terms of reference for a national review of cardiac care.

Deputy Cullinane said: “The shocking events in Waterford at the weekend have brought home the need for the provision of proper, safe and sustainable interventional cardiology services for the South East

This is a crucial issue. It goes to the core of whether University Hospital Waterford is a level four Regional Hospital providing regional tertiary care.

Continued on page 19.

“A national review of cardiac care is being commissioned by the Minister for Health to establish whether to cease all emergency cardiac services in the region. This is on foot of the Herity Report which proposes to cease all Primary PCI at UHW.

“This recommendation has caused shock and disbelief in the region and must be challenged.

“Local clinicians have challenged the Herity Report on a number of grounds including existing national and regional policy, the role and status of the hospital as a regional service provider, basing population catchment areas on need and not on current limited capacity, distance to other hospitals, patient safety, and risk analysis.

“In this context, I have submitted my document to the Department and put forward terms of reference proposing that a national review: is framed in the context of existing national and regional policy is Independent and based on clinical and medical need and is underpinned by the National Clinical Programme consults widely with local clinicians and medical experts is based on the actual population of the South East and not an arbitrary effective catchment population is cognisant of the range of travel time to hospitals outside the region and not simply the average time clarifies the status of UHW as a regional hospital identifies need and capacity based on the geographical area the hospital services namely the South East

“The South East deserves the same level of services as all other regions. Patients in the South East want safe and accessible services. This must involve the provision of a second Cath Lab and 24/7 PPCI at UHW for all patients in the region.”

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