Monday, 11th December 2017
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Believing junior minister John Halligan was ‘well intentioned but badly advised’, Fine Gael TD John Deasy says the decision by senior Waterford hospital consultants to link up with Cork in 2013 was a mistake — and that the current controversy surrounding cardiology services proves it.

Deputy Deasy strongly criticised consultants at Ardkeen when, “having spearheaded a public campaign for the retention of the South East Hospital Group, with Waterford at its head, they did a sudden u-turn.”

Now, three years on, with Waterford’s insufficient catchment area being cited as a reason for not improving services, Deasy says “it exposes the decision the consultants made to leave the South East Hospital Group and enter into a partnership with University Hospital Cork.

“Four years ago I arranged meetings between specialists at Ardkeen, senior HSE officials, and TDs. We had reached agreement politically for the South East network to be safeguarded; our priorities being patient safety and the future of Waterford Regional Hospital.

“But the consultants failed miserably to present a convincing medical case to secure Waterford’s regional status. And then they ultimately went with the Cork option.”

Deasy added: “In my opinion, time will demonstrate it was a bad decision and we’re beginning to see signs of that already. What some of the consultants that are running the hospital in Waterford warned against — curtailed services locally — is actually happening because of the decision they made.

As for the outcome of the recent review into the need for a second cath lab and 24-7 cardiology cover in Waterford, Deasy said: “I think that John Halligan in his dealings with the consultants was well intentioned but it has backfired badly. It was a politician looking to score on a local issue and he was badly advised by the consultants in the hospital.

“As someone who has lobbied in opposition and in government for additional cardiology services in Waterford, it’s disappointing that one of the recommendations in the Herity Report is to move services to Cork. I see my job right now as trying to ensure that doesn’t happen. To a certain extent it’s about picking up the pieces.

“It’s important that services are maintained in Waterford but you can’t ignore the recommendation that certain cardiac services be moved to Cork in the interests of patient safety — everyone has conveniently ignored that finding.”

Deasy added: “Some might say it’s irrelevant to be harking back to the decisions made around the time of the Higgins Report but it’s not — some of the same people are still running the hospital here and and there needs to be a change of leadership at UHW if things are to improve long-term.”

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