Northern Ireland

Children's heart surgery: £42m for all-island congenital heart disease service

Michelle O'Neill with Simon Harris
Image caption Children's heart surgery services at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) ceased in 2015.

A new all-island children's heart surgery network is to benefit from £42m worth of investment.

The funding was revealed on Monday at the opening of a new hybrid cardiac catheterisation laboratory at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Dublin.

In the future, children from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will all receive treatment there.

Children's heart surgery services at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) ceased in 2015.

The move followed a 2012 review, commissioned by health ministers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which revealed that services at the RVH were not sustainable, with many operations taking place in either England or Dublin.

Challenges

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Media captionChildren's heart surgery: £42m for all-island congenital heart disease service

Speaking at the opening of the new centre in Dublin, Northern Ireland's health minister, Michelle O'Neill, said children would be able to receive post and pre-operative care in Belfast.

She said: "The Congenital Heart Disease Network is a great initiative that benefits all of Ireland.

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Image caption The phased implementation of the transfer of all urgent surgical cases from Northern Ireland to the new Dublin centre should be complete by the end of 2017

"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 £42m investment includes contributions from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland health departments, £1m of which will enhance existing facilities in Belfast.

In a statement from the Department of Health, a spokesperson said the phased implementation of the transfer of all urgent surgical cases from Northern Ireland to the new Dublin centre should be complete by the end of 2017, with all elective surgical cases transferred by the end of 2018.

Irish health minister, Simon Harris said: "This unique collaboration is the first formally established all-island network for clinical care and I look forward to working with minister O'Neill and her department to identify further opportunities for collaboration into the future."

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