Today I reminded Mr. Woods, the National Director of Acute Operations in the HSE of the closing down of the Cath Lab in Waterford since February. I highlighted to him that this closure is leading to 30 – 50 diagnostic cases to the waiting list every week.

I have been asking the HSE for the past number of weeks to issue Covid19 tests to the Engineers that are required to come into the country from abroad to work on this project and get the Cath Lab up and running. To date, NOTHING has happened.

It is unacceptable that potentially critically ill patients are being denied diagnostic testing because of the Administration and the ongoing failure to deliver! I will continue to look for answers on this and FIGHT to move this project forward.

Waterford At Heart.

My contribution on this issue in the Dáil: 

Matt Shanahan:

I am keen to highlight the situation of the closure of a catheterisation laboratory in Waterford since February. This is adding between 30 and 50 diagnostic cases to the waiting list every week.

The problem is that essentially the engineers who are required to travel from abroad will not come into the country to observe a two-week isolation period. If we gave them a Covid-19 test and they proved that they were covid-free, they could come in and do the work. I have been asking the HSE in recent weeks to expedite this. To date, nothing has happened. It is not beyond the wit of man to have this done. Will Mr. Woods give categoric approval to put in place Covid-19 testing, communicate with the squires of that laboratory, get these engineers in and get this cath lab up and running please?

Mr. Liam Woods, HSE:

My understanding is that the project has recommenced. It was not only about the engineers. I will do what—–

Matt Shanahan:

My information differs. I understand the project has not commenced on the ground. I do not know what else has commenced but no other work has commenced there as of yet. That is my information.

Mr. Liam Woods, HSE:

I will address the core question. I will do everything I feasibly can with the South/South West hospital group to get the project recommenced. I understand from conversations with those involved recently that it is recommencing. If there is any difficulty with that I will certainly communicate with them to ensure it is resolved.

I wish to highlight to Mr. Woods that I spoke to the former Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, in April on this subject. He agreed with the Department that this was classed as essential work. It is beyond understanding why it has been suspended for so long.

Earlier, Deputy Cullinane mentioned the procurement process for the second cath lab. This has now been extended by another four months without any understanding. We are to have an Office of Government Procurement review of a review of a tender that has now taken 20 months to compile. Will Mr. Woods please use his office to look at this? We had a commitment that building works could start in October. There is no reason they should not. This laboratory is needed. Patients are being added to the list every month. It is absolutely unacceptable that potentially critically ill patients are being denied diagnostic testing because of administration and the ongoing failure to deliver.

Mr. Liam Woods, HSE:

If it is helpful, I would be happy to provide a further report to the committee. I know there has been a brief report on this but I will certainly provide a further report to the committee on timescales to completion.

Matt Shanahan:

I imagine we would welcome the report, but what I would like to understand is how in 20 months we have only moved a project to design stage and planning permission. That took 20 months when a private laboratory was able to install a functioning cath lab in 12 weeks in the same area.