Several hundred people have protested outside Leinster House over what they claim are inadequate cardiac facilities in the southeast.

The protesters demanded improved facilities in University Hospital Waterford.

Two weeks ago a Co Waterford farmer, Thomas Power, died in an ambulance as he was being transferred from Waterford to Cork having suffered a heart attack.

His family and campaigners say he would have survived if proper cardiac facilities were available in Waterford.

Chanting 'We are Tom', the protesters were joined by politicians from around the southeast.

In a statement, Minister of State John Halligan - who represents the Waterford constituency - praised those who turned out at the protest.

He said the protest indicates the people of the southeast "are not willing to tolerate being second-class citizens when it comes to their healthcare."

The issue of Waterford's cardiac care services was also raised inside Leinster House during Leaders' Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the sister of Mr Power spoke to a number of politicians today and gave a heart-rending account of the devastation his death had caused.

Mr Martin said a report in 2012, which was accepted by the HSE, had recommended a second cath laboratory for Waterford University Hospital but it never happened.

A cath lab, or catheterization laboratory, is where imaging equipment is used to examine the condition of a person’s heart.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar again expressed his sympathy to the family of Mr Power but said he could not comment on individual cases.

He pointed out that additional hours had been provided to the cath lab and that extra money had been invested by the HSE. A tender had also been issued by the executive for a mobile cath lab for the area.

A national review would be taking place to examine the level and distribution of services around the country, he said.