Figures unveiled on RTE’s investigative programme Prime Time on Thursday evening prove that STEMI heart attack patients are frequently failing to receive timely emergency treatment, within the recommended 90 minutes, out of hours.
Figures from the National Ambulance Service, obtained by WIT’s Dr Ray Griffin, show that over a three year period, the length of time from calling an ambulance to delivering the patient was less than 90 minutes in only three of 196 cases.
These figures refer to all emergency calls from hospitals in the region to Cork or Dublin.
Dr Mark Doyle who recently retired as clinical lead in the Emergency Department at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) told the programme staff in his department did dummy runs to see how long it would take to prep a patient for emergency transfer and with everything running at clockwork it took a minimum of 16 minutes.
He said: “In the real world …best case scenario it’s going to take 15-30 minutes, if you factor that in to the times of the actual inter-hospital journey it’s going to bring you way over the 90 minutes”.
The HSE told RTE only a small number of emergency transfers involved STEMI patients.
It said national guidelines are based only on door-to-door transport times and that 80% of STEMI journeys were completed within that time.
However, cardiologists in the south east contest this view and say that all international evidence supports the view that the 90 minute countdown begins the moment a patient is diagnosed with a STEMI heart attack.
Dr Patrick Owens, Consultant Cardiologist at UHW told the programme: “There are patients who have without doubt died en route down to Cork or up to Dublin because they have not been able to access the service in a prompt and timely manner. Because the cath lab in the south-east was not open.”
Dr Aidan Buckley who also works as a cardiologist at UHW said: “The notion that this treatment can be provided within the golden 90 minutes has manifestly been shown to be false by this data”.
Meanwhile, a social media campaign has been launched asking people to take selfie for 24 hour cardiac care.
A video posted by the South East Patient Advocacy Group (SEPAG) contains a number of personal messages of support from local and national personalities, campaigners and people affected directly by the issue
“The concept is very simple” said Yvonne Cooney of SEPAG “we would like people to take a selfie with their own personal message similar to those that can be seen in the video and upload it to any social media platform e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp etc. ensuring they use the hashtag #selfiesfor24seven”.