AN inspection of a lab at the Regional Hospital - which remains the final stumbling block for round-the-clock treatment of certain heart attack patients in Limerick - will take place this Thursday, Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has pledged on a visit to the city.
Patients suffering from a STEMI heart attack have for a number of weeks been brought to ambulance by Galway should it strike outside the hours of nine to five, Monday to Friday.
The situation was described as “unsafe” and “irresponsible” last week by one of the country’s most senior consultant cardiolgists, Dr Brendan Meaney.
In Limerick to open a new primary care centre, Minister Reilly was presented with a petition with close to 1,000 signatures demanding the cath lab at Dooradoyle be opened on a 24-hour basis.
Minister Reilly said all the elements were in place to do precisely that and all that remained was for an inspection of the lab to be carried out by Dr Kieran Daly, the clinical lead of the acute coronary syndrome programme.
“There has been considerable concern in recent times about the cath lab here I’m glad to tell you an inspection will take place on Thursday, three days hence, I’m quite confident having spoken to Ann Doherty (CEO of the Mid-Western acute hospitals group) that that inspection will be passed and that you will have your 24-7 cath lab available to you if anybody gets what they call a STEMI, which is a serious myocardial heart attack. They will be looked after here in Limerick,” the minister stated.
Asked when he expected the lab would start accepting patients in Limerick around-the-clock, the minister replied “I’m saying the doctors themselves are prepared to provide a 24-hour service and we are prepared to support them” and the lab would open as soon as possible.
Minister Reilly was in Limerick to officially open the new King’s Island Primary Care Centre, which has been accepting patients in the shadow of King John’s Castle for some months now.
Developed by local GP Dr Richard Murray - at a capital cost of over €2.5 million - the HSE leases space there to provide a range of services to patients in the King’s Island and Corbally areas, with a catchment of up to 9,000 people.
Up to eight HSE staff are permanently employed at the centre with visiting GPs and other medical staff also providing a range of services that include community nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietary advice and a speech and language therapy.
It was evidence of the “Government’s commitment to primary care and moving patients out of hospitals back into the community”, said Minister Reilly.
“It is part of the effort of ensuring that people get treated at the lowest level of complexity that’s safe, timely, efficient and as near to home as possible. You can’t get nearer to home than in the home and the next best thing is your local primary care centre which you have here.”
It was “a huge addition to health services in the area,” the minister said.