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Tánaiste addresses delays with the North Quays, and 24/7 cath lab staffing issues

The Tánaiste has said the North Quays development is something that is "very much" on his mind.

The long-running project received a major setback in May 2021, when Falcon Real Estate pulled out, leaving Waterford Council with no choice but to put it out to tender again.

Leo Varadkar spoke to the press at Belview this week, where the sod was turned on a €200 million cheese factory, which will create hundreds of jobs in the South East.

When asked by WLR if there was an update on the Quays, the Tánaiste said "I don't have one, but it's something that's very much on my mind, because it's been in gestation for a very long time."

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Referring to a speech he gave at Bausch and Lomb in recent years, Leo Varadkar said he'd listed a number of projects in Waterford he was keen to see progress on; a university for the region, a second cath lab, and the North Quays:

"And the North Quays really hasn't progressed much since then, and there's reasons for that in relation to government funding and the investor and so on, but I will follow up on that, I'll follow up on that this week," he said.

Problems recruiting staff at the 2nd cath lab

The Fine Gael leader also addressed the progress of plans for a second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford, citing staffing issues as the main stumbling block to a 24/7 service.

He said difficulty recruiting staff is not something that's  "unique to Waterford."

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"My understanding is the construction project is going well, and it's an issue of staffing it now. That will be the challenge I think, and to be honest, that's always been the challenge. It is hard to get staff in the health service, particularly specialising staff. That's not unique to Waterford, or Dublin, or Ireland."

The Tánaiste added that there's a risk in the Irish health system of spreading staff too thinly, which can cause services to collapse.

The lab is currently operating a 9-5 Monday to Friday service for patients in need of emergency cardiac treatment. The campaign to move it to a 24/7 service has been ongoing for years.

More here on the latest news for Waterford.

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