herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Patients waiting up to 15 months for heart surgery

Health

Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers
Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers

Patients are waiting up to 15 months for treatment for life-threatening heart problems at the city's top cardiac care hospital.

The HSE has confirmed that waiting times for heart bypass operations at the Mater Hospital on Dublin's northside is between 12 and 15 months.

The lengthy waiting list was revealed in response to questions from Fianna Fail councillor Jack Chambers to the Dublin Regional Health Forum.

Mr Chambers has expressed his concern that patients won't survive their time on the waiting list for heart operations in the specialist cardiac hospital.

"There is absolutely no doubt that some patients who are in need of a heart bypass will die if they are expected to wait 15 months for this life-saving surgery.

"These are very ill patients whose cases have been deemed by doctors as serious enough to require surgery, as stents and other interventions will not work. They do not have over a year to wait," Mr Chambers said.

"I am aware of a number of cases of very sick cardiac patients having their bypass surgery cancelled or delayed on several occasions.

"One patient contacted me after his bypass surgery at the Mater was cancelled three times," Mr Chambers said.

"He has been forced to go through the ordeal of changing medication in the lead up to surgery, only to be dropped at the very last minute.

"This is despite the fact that this case has been deemed a 'priority' due to his level of clinical need," he continued.

"They said that in the case of an emergency, the surgical team will prioritise the case according to clinical need.

"However, clearly there are 'priority' cases that are being overlooked.

"In my view, all heart bypass surgeries should be treated as a priority and no critically-ill patient should be forced to wait for over a year for life-saving surgery," he added.

A Mater Hospital spokeswoman said that patients are prioritised based on their clinical need and that the hospital is completing hundreds of the procedures a year.

"The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH) Cardio Thoracic department manages a service that delivers both scheduled and unscheduled care completing over 650 bypass surgical procedures per annum, serving a large catchment area that includes Dublin, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.

Need

"In addition to this the MMUH is also the centre for the National Heart and Lung Transplant Programme which has carried out 46 transplant procedures this year alone.

"The department ensures that the range of services are continually assessed and that patients are prioritised based on clinical need and assessment," she said.

Mr Chambers called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to "wake up" to the issue.

The Fianna Fail politician is contesting the upcoming general election in Dublin West, the same constituency as Mr Varadkar.

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