Waterford's new mobile cath lab "a temporary solution to a permanent problem"

A planned protest calling for the introduction of 24-hour cardiac care services in the city is set to go ahead this afternoon

Waterford's new mobile cath lab "a temporary solution to a permanent problem"

Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan. Image: RollingNews.ie

A Waterford lobby group has accused the government of trying to “fudge” the need for a 24-hour lab in the city by providing a mobile one instead.

The South East Patient Advocacy Group (SEPAG) is going ahead with a demonstration today to highlight the need for a permanent cardiac care unit for the region.

Junior Minister John Halligan said yesterday that he'd received assurances from the Health Minister that a mobile lab would be going ahead.

However, SEPAG member Hilary O’Neill said the mobile lab is not enough calling the proposal a "temporary solution to a permanent problem.”

Ms O’Neill told Newstalk it was a “bit of a cynical move” by the government to announce the mobile lab the evening before today’s planned protest.

“We are going back now to the Higgins report which recommended that 24/7 cardiac would be implemented - we are the only region in Ireland that has no 24/7 cover,” she said.

“Basically today if anybody has a heart attack they have to go to Cork.

“While the mobile cath lab will alleviate waiting lists it is not open at the weekend, it is not open after five o’clock - it is not going to make any difference to what we have been campaigning for.”

According to the group if the South East Region is denied a permanent lab 500,000 people will remain at risk.

“Our protest [...] in Waterford will still go ahead as planned and our campaign will continue as patients’ lives will still be at risk out of hours,” said Ms O’Neill.

“This announcement lacks clarity and detail as a further review is promised but no timeline is given and we all know what the last review contained.

“Timing is everything but our protest will still go ahead.”

Speaking to Newstalk Drive yesterday Mr Halligan said he would have resigned as Minister of State if the new mobile unit was not delivered for Waterford.

However, Labour Party Senator Denis Landy has accused him of performing a u-turn on his commitments to constituents.

“Minister Halligan has stated before that the provision of a second cath lab at UHW was a make or break issue for his supporting this government,” said Senator Landy.

“This 11th hour attempt to placate marchers in support of UHW with a ‘Mobile Cath Lab’ as a substitute for providing adequate cardiac facilities at UHW fools nobody.

“I will be attending this Saturday’s protest on behalf of my Labour colleagues in support of essential hospital services for the entire South East.”

This afternoon's protest gets underway at 2pm in Ballybricken Co. Waterford