The Taoiseach has committed to delivering a 24/7 cardiac care service for the South East.
Responding in the Dáil last night (Tuesday), to questions from Waterford Independent TD, Matt Shanahan, Leo Varadkar confirmed that the Government would work towards delivering this service in Waterford.
Last September, the cath lab moved from a 9 to 5 service to an 8 to 8 service, but patients requiring cardiac care outside of those hours are still being brought to Cork.
"Taoiseach, my question is when will your government stop protecting Cork consultants' private practices?" Deputy Shanahan pressed, "And when will the people of Waterford and the surrounds have an equitable 24/7, life-saving standard of emergency cardiac care service at University Hospital Waterford?"
Leo Varadkar paid a two-day visit to Waterford earlier this month for the commemoration of the Irish flag and the turning of the sod on the North Quays project.
During that visit, he also went to UHW to speak to the manager and staff there, who have all been under significant pressure since the fire at Wexford General Hospital.
"The hospital has confirmed," he said in response to Deputy Shanahan, "that extended cardiac service hours for the existing cath lab commenced from the 5th of September.
"That means, the existing cath lab is now open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.
"The next step - and we are absolutely committed to making this happen - is to make sure that we have a seven-day service, moving to 8-8 seven days a week, and then building up to a 24-hour service."
In an interview with WLR News this morning, Deputy Shanahan has described last night's confirmation by the Taoiseach as a "very significant day for 24/7."
"The government has accepted now that 24/7 is now government policy," he said, "because it has never been [before] and it has been obstructed for years.
"Finally the pathway has now been laid."
However, a timeline for when this will happen was not provided by the Taoiseach and during Leaders' Questions this afternoon (Wednesday), when questioned by Deputy David Cullinane, he said there has not been a change to Government's policy on the matter.
WLR News understands at least 10-15 extra staff will have to be recruited to allow for a 24-hour service, but Deputy Shanahan says "relentless pressure" will continue to be applied on the government to make sure this happens.
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