A Carrick father has welcomed the development that an all-island review of children’s heart surgery services has been ordered.
In a joint announcement on Monday, Health Minister Edwin Poots and his Republic of Ireland counterpart James Reilly indicated an agreement had been reached between officials and Dublin surgeons.
This would see the provision of support and surgical cover to allow the continuation of congenital heart surgery in Belfast. Meanwhile, an all-island assessment of children’s cardiac services is to be completed by June 2014.
The news was welcomed by charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust, who along with families campaigned for an all-island service after an original proposal to relocate children’s cardiac services to England was quashed at consultation stage.
Local man Allan McCullough, whose son Jay received treatment for a congenital heart condition at The Royal Victoria Hospital’s Clark Clinic, said the news was a ‘positive step forward’.
“As far as I can see they are looking into the possibility of an all-island service, which is what we wanted,” Allan added. “Hopefully this time around the right people are involved and our own consultants’ views will be taken into account.
“The original review was pointless and it has now effectively been scrapped, so it’s a relief for parents to know that their children will not have to face travelling to England for surgery.”
Sarah Quinlan, Executive Officer with Children’s Heartbeat Trust said: “This announcement shows that an all-island cardiac surgery network is possible and achievable with Dublin surgeons continuing to support their surgical colleagues in Belfast, something we have consistently called for.
“Along with specialist clinicians in Belfast and families, [we] have argued from the beginning of this long process that the continuation of surgery in Belfast was feasible if considered as part of an all-island network.”