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FACTCHECK

Debunked: No, the NI Protocol has not impacted on heart surgeries in Northern Ireland

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said the Protocol is responsible for delays to cardiac services.

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IN RECENT DAYS, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has repeated claims that the Northern Ireland Protocol has led to heart surgeries being delayed.

Donaldson made the claim that the Protocol was to blame for key medical equipment being unavailable in the UK in August and that it was only able to be secured in Germany.

Currently, the Protocol requires physical customs checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, which the DUP have rallied against in recent months, with the party refusing to reenter powersharing until checks are removed.

When he was asked yesterday about people on long waiting lists for surgeries, Donaldson said that the matter wasn’t helped “when access to medicines is impaired and inhibited” by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“It is not acceptable when people who are waiting on vital cardiac surgery in the Southern Trust are told they can’t have their treatment because parts for an angiogram machine are not available in Great Britain and have to be ordered from Germany.”

northern-ireland-assembly-election-2022 Jeffrey Donaldson speaking to media yesterday PA PA

He added that those patients were then referred to a separate healthcare facility for treatment.

However, a spokesperson for the Southern Trust said that the issue in procuring equipment was not related to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“In early August, we experienced some difficulties with our Cardiac Catheterisation Service related to significant faults with the transfer of images and cabling fractures in our Cath Lab,” the Southern Trust spokesperson said in a statement.

“Extensive efforts were made to source replacement parts in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK but unfortunately given the size of the equipment required, it had to be sourced from the manufacturing site in Germany.

“The replacement cabling was shipped from Germany and the work was able to be completed on Friday 18 August. Following checks we were able to recommence the Cath Lab lists.

“Given that the service would be suspended for a period of time, we liaised with colleagues in the Belfast Trust to facilitate the transfer of 20 patients to have their procedures completed.

“There have been no further issues with the equipment since the cabling was replaced,” the statement concluded.

Separately, a spokesperson for manufacturer Siemens confirmed to the BBC that there was no delay in supplying the key parts due to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

There have previously been claims by the UK Government that the Jewish community were unable to practice their faith due to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

This claim was made by former Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, who said that kosher goods were more difficult to access due to the amount of paperwork involved in importing them.

Alongside previous claims, there is currently no evidence that the Protocol is preventing the movement of goods into Northern Ireland.

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