Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry says the tragic death of Thomas Power in Co. Waterford is shining the spotlight once again on the need for a Cath Lab at Sligo University Hospital.  Mr. Power died while being transferred from Waterford to Cork University Hospital on Sunday afternoon.  The cath lab at Waterford only operates from Monday to Friday.

Deputy Mac Sharry commented, “This awful tragedy has highlighted the importance of cath labs in our health system and is proof of the life-saving service they provide to people in the catchment area of hospitals which have them.  Despite Sligo University Hospital having been previously approved for a cath lab, Fine Gael has continuously stalled on its provision.

“A cath lab at Sligo University Hospital has the potential to deliver life-saving treatment to tens of thousands of people across Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, North Roscommon & North Mayo. At the moment, a mobile unit visits Sligo University Hospital once a week, which only provides diagnostic services.  Other patients are forced to travel to Altnagelvin in Derry, Dublin or Galway – all of which are too far away for someone having a heart attack.

“What is more worrying is the fact that the Government appears to have abandoned any previous plans for a full time cath lab at SUH.  When I questioned the Taoiseach in the Dáil today about the availability of stenting and PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) procedures he told me that he “understands” that “the north west is now covered by agreement from Altnagelvin and Letterkenny hospitals”.  This is cold comfort for the 250,000 who fall into the North West catchment area and are expected to travel hundreds of kilometres in the event of a cardiac episode.

“People in the North West cannot time their heart attacks, or rely on weather dependent air transfer or wait for the roads to improve.

“This is further evidence of this Government’s disinterest in the North West. The weekly fanfare of Ministerial photocalls and announcements is not being backed up with the necessary action.  Health services here have suffered immensely under Fine Gael – waiting lists have increased, community services have been cut and people are being forced to attend other hospitals for essential diagnostic treatment.  This neglect has to end and I will be continuing to press this issue with the Health Minister and the Taoiseach”.