Thursday, 24th August 2017
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Halligan delivers on Cardiac Care

Waterford’s Independent TD Deputy John Halligan has secured the provision of a badly needed second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford, along with funding to extend cath lab hours while the build takes place. The extension of cardiac services and provision of a second cath lab at UHW emerged as a ‘make or break’ issue during protracted Government negotiations in Leinster House over the last 10 weeks. Following a series of intense meetings, Deputy Halligan finally signed off on a groundbreaking deal for the constituency last Friday. He admitted that signing up to support a Fine Gael-led minority government was one of the toughest decisions he ever made but said he did so to get the ‘best possible deal’ for Waterford.

"It became clear to me during the ongoing negotiations – particularly when Fianna Fáil agreed to a minority government arrangement - that Enda Kenny was going to be re-elected Taoiseach. I had a clear choice, go back to the Opposition benches for another couple of years or plough ahead and get the best possible deal I could for Waterford. There was no other Waterford TD in a position to do so and if I hadn’t stepped up, Waterford would continue to be the forgotten county for another Dáil term."

Under the terms of the deal- which was written into the new Programme for Government - an independent clinical review of the cardiac needs of the region is to be carried out within 6 weeks.

This, Deputy Halligan said, is a ‘formality’, since UHW consultants involved in the talks are fully confident that Waterford substantially exceeds the necessary throughput to warrant the second cath lab. Once the review is complete, funding has been ringfenced to proceed immediately with the build and fit-out.

"The review is being done so that the Government can assure the rest of the country that Waterford is not being shown ‘special treatment’ and that the need to extend cardiology services is based on clinical need, which there is no question of. Activity at the single cath lab is increasing year on year. There is an 18-month waiting list for angiograms, while inpatients with serious cardiac problems are currently waiting over 7 days for their procedure. The national guideline is 24 hours. Furthermore, the number of emergency stent procedures carried out at UHW annually – combined with those sent to Cork or Dublin after hours - is well above the minimum guideline required to warrant the second lab."

While the second cath lab is being completed, Deputy Halligan has secured a commitment that on-call cardiology cover will be made available at weekends. Furthermore, funding has been guaranteed to allow for the recruitment of staff to facilitate the extension of existing lab hours at the hospital on a phased basis.

"Hospital management are being asked to review the resourcing necessary to extend the existing lab hours, so that this process can get underway without undue delay. These staff will already be in place when the new cath lab opens."

Deputy Halligan paid tribute to UHW consultant Dr Patrick Owens and other members of the cardiology unit at UHW who were involved in the negotiations, along with Willie Doyle of the 24/7 Cardiac Care for Waterford and the South-East campaign group. "The people of Waterford need to be aware that they have a fantastic team at UHW and also in the 24/7 advocacy group, all of whom went above and beyond with their time and knowledge during these negotiations. The deal would not have been gotten over the line without every one of them." (See Editorial on Page.10).

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