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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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All children from NI who need heart surgery will soon be having it in Dublin

A working group found that having two surgical centres north and south of the border could not be justified due to the small number of surgeries each year.

Image: child doctor image via Shutterstock.com

IT WAS ANNOUNCED today that all children’s heart operations across Northern Ireland and the Republic will soon take place in Dublin’s Crumlin Hospital, putting an end to paediatric heart surgery in Belfast.

The decision comes on foot of a report from an international working group which examined the needs of the two countries to meet the demand for this service.

The group found that the small numbers of cases of congenital heart disease among children do not justify having two surgical centres north and south of the border. A number of children from Northern Ireland had already been forced to travel to England for operations before now, because complex operations ceased in Belfast two years ago.

The working group made 14 recommendations and today, Health Minister Leo Varadkar along with Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Jim Wells, confirmed that they will all be implemented as soon as possible.

In a joint statement, they said the solution “allow clinicians in both jurisdictions to build on the robust professional relationships that have been formed through implementation of the current service level agreements (SLAs) between the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin”.

The group recommended expansion of associated facilities at Crumlin hospital to facilitate growth of elective surgical capacity. Upon completion and commissioning of the new children’s hospital in Dublin, all paediatric congenital heart disease services will move to the new site.

In Belfast, a cardiac centre of excellence will be established to provide diagnostics and aftercare for children who need surgery. It is expected that the new system will takeup to a year and a half to set up.

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