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cardiac care

Long-awaited cardiac care review to be published next year, says minister

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says the recommendations in the report do not come cheap.

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said the review into Ireland’s cardiac care will not be “null and void” despite being commissioned six years ago. 

Speaking to The Journal in a wide-ranging interview before Christmas, the minister said he plans to publish the report in the first quarter of the new year. 

The Oireachtas Health Committee heard in December that pending the reviews’ implementation, cardiac care will remain “in a state of limbo”.

Cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death in Ireland, with an average of 10,000 deaths per annum. Approximately 7,500 people have a stroke each year in Ireland, and stroke is the leading cause of acquired adult neurological disability in this country.

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy and Patient Support, Irish Heart Foundation (IHF), told the committee that there is “chronic lack of investment in community supports for heart and stroke patients”.

The IHF claims the review was provided for the minister’s consideration over six months ago and it was hoped it would have been published by now.

It will be at least six years from commencement of the review to its eventual publication.

The committee was also told of worries among patients about whether the report or its recommendations will still be relevant.

When asked about the review, which was authored by former National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) member and current CEO of Science Foundation Ireland, Philip Nolan, the minister said it is being examined by the HSE and his department.

Donnelly said he plans to brief party leaders on the report shortly.

The minister said it is a “good review” and is not outdated.

“I met Philip Nolan, he authored this, and had a long chat with him about it. To me, it looks very comprehensive. It looks good. It calls out some of the failings in cardiovascular care and when you look at the main causes of death in Ireland, cardiovascular care or cardiovascular disease is right up there,” said Donnelly. 

The minister said there is a long list of recommendations in terms of capacity and models of care, both hospital and community based care, avoidance and prevention.

“It is under consideration. The recommendations are not cheap. It’s a lot of additional resources and we have a lot of competing demands,” he added, citing the national cancer strategy, maternity, trauma, cardiac, mental health and the draft palliative care strategy,

“One of the challenges any Minister for Health has is we’ve got all of these wonderful strategies that ask for everything they would want. When you add up the amounts, if you were to try and fully fund them all, you just, you can’t, there just isn’t that level of funding,” he said.

“So what are we doing? We’re looking at this. I thought some of the comments from the Irish Heart Foundation were fair. I thought some of them were we’re not. We have invested in the stroke strategy. There’s never been a stroke strategy. I allocated a lot of money this year and it is having an effect and the recovery rates are way up,” he said. 

The minister said the chronic disease management programme which is operated by GP has been piloted in the last year to deal with diabetes, asthma and COPD. The programme is now being expanded to include hypertension, the minister said.

He confirmed that he plans to publish the cardiac report in the new year.

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