THE HSE is awaiting the result of an inspection of a cath lab at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital which if passed will end the practice of certain heart attack victims being taken outside of the region for treatment.
Patients in the Limerick region who fall victim to a particular type of heart attack known as a STEMI - or ST-elevated myocardial infarction - have had to endure 90-minute ambulance journeys to Galway should it strike outside the hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Limerick cardiologist Dr Brendan Meaney has warned this was “unsafe” should patients arrive at Galway University Hospital too late, particularly when a cath lab in Limerick is equipped to treat such patients at night and at weekends.
On a visit to the city last week, Minister for Health Dr James Reilly assured the public that all that remained to allow 24-7 access to the lab for local patients was an inspection to be carried out by Dr Kieran Daly, clinical lead of the acute coronary syndrome programme.
That inspection took place last Thursday and the HSE is now waiting on news of the outcome. Minister Reilly had expressed confidence there would be no undue delay.
“We are very confident having spoken to (Mid-West acute hospitals group CEO) Ann Doherty that we will meet the requirements of the inspection,” Dr Reilly said.
His Fine Gael colleague Deputy Kieran O’Donnell sees no reason why the cath lab can’t be fully operational within days once the inspection is passed.
“But it shouldn’t have come to this,” the Limerick TD added, stressing Limerick was entitled to the same level of care as Galway and other regions.