A new all-island heart surgery network has secured £42 million of investment from health departments on both sides of the border.
Simon Harris TD and Michelle O’Neill MLA made the announcement at the opening of the Hybrid Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin. The funding includes contributions from both health departments, £1 million of which will be used to enhance existing facilities in Belfast.
Minister O’Neill said: “The Congenital Heart Disease Network is a great initiative that benefits all of Ireland.
“I want to continue with positive all-Ireland approaches to health and social care and address the uncertainties and challenges that now exist as a result of the recent EU referendum.”
The first clinical network of its kind, it will be used to treat children from Northern Ireland as well as the Republic in the future. Child heart surgery was previously carried out at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH).
But after a 2012 review, it was found that services at RVH were not sustainable and that patients were often travelling to southern Ireland or other parts of the UK for treatment. Services ceased in 2015 and, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Health, all urgent surgical cases from Northern Ireland should be transferred to the new Dublin centre by the end of 2017.
All elective surgical cases should be transferred by the end of 2018. Minister Harris said: “This unique collaboration is the first formally established all-island network for clinical care.
“I look forward to working with Minister O’Neill and her department to identify further opportunities for collaboration in the future, so that patients – children and adults alike – can benefit from safe, high quality services with equally high quality outcomes.”