Waterford University Hospital
Over 2,000 people have taken part in a protest in Waterford city last Saturday over the lack of 24/7 cardiac care at University Hospital Waterford.
Piltown Councillor Pat Dunphy said it was a very “positive” protest with several hundred people attending from Kilkenny including residents of Graignamanagh and Thomastown.
He said: “There was a big crowd. The official figure was 2,000 but it looked like a lot more than that. There was a good crowd, a good atmosphere and it was a good statement.
“There is a huge appetite for the campaign.”
A statement on behalf of the South East Patient Advocacy Group said: “We would like to commend each and every person from the south east who came out on Saturday to defend our right to 24/7 cardiac care at UHW.
“We understand that all 19 Oireachtas members from the southeast are meeting with Minister Simon Harris on Wednesday, February 14 at 3.30pm.
“In this regard we are calling on all our elected representatives to impress upon the Minister for Health that there can be no more 'fudge' and he must find a way to set aside the Herity Report and implement the second cath lab and 24/7 cardiology services at UHW as recommended by Prof. John Higgins in 2012 without any further delay.”
Speaking at the protest, campaigner for 24-hour cardiac care in the South-East Hilary O'Neill said: “We are standing in our regional hospital grounds. In there you will find a cath lab. A cath lab that is now closed until 9 o'clock on Monday morning.
“Isn't it shameful to say if anybody here has a heart attack right now they cannot get the treatment they need to save their life in this regional hospital.
“They would have to be put into the back of an ambulance and carted off to Cork not knowing whether they will get there alive or dead with their poor family racing behind them in a car hoping their loved one will make it.
“No other regional hospital's cath lab closes in the evening or at the weekends... this is unique only to UHW.”
The South South West Hospital Group confirmed that the Minister for Health has directed that UHW should put in place a short extension to the existing mobile cath lab contract.
They added: “A ten week extension is proposed. This will allow time for the SSWHG to review the recruitment required to meet the existing cath lab operating hours and to develop a plan to ensure the recommendations of the Herity report in this regard are implemented.”
Protesters said the extension is not enough and that a second cath lab and 24/7 cardiac care is what is required.
Cllr Dunphy added: “The most immediate thing is the need for emergency cover on weekends for people.”
UHW caters for much of the South-East.
The mobile lab initiative, which is due to end on 14 February, was organised to supplement the work being done at the permanent cath lab inside the hospital.