Minister James Reilly TD and Minister Edwin Poots MLA today together announced that a team of three international clinicians will carry out an independent assessment of current and future needs for cardiology and cardiac surgery for congenital heart disease in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The assessment team will describe the existing hospital services in both jurisdictions, outline options for service configuration and governance arrangements and report to both Ministers, jointly, recommending the most appropriate model that meets the population health needs and other requirements of both jurisdictions.
The assessment will in this way address the needs of children and adults in relation to congenital cardiac surgery on the whole island. It is due to start in January 2014 and be completed in six months. When the Ministers receive this independent assessment, decisions can then be made on the optimal service provision which it is intended will be implemented for these services as soon as possible.
The Ministers recognise that the development and implementation of any safe and sustainable model of care requires careful planning, effective engagement and buy-in of all stakeholders, in particular family representatives and professionals, and this assessment is seen as essential to the achievement of that shared goal.
In the interim, pending the completion of the assessment in June 2014, health service management and clinicians in the Republic of Ireland will continue to work with their colleagues in Belfast to provide and develop support to the services in Northern Ireland.
Chief Executive of the Children’s Heart Federation, Anne Keatley-Clarke says:
“We hope that the independent assessment will take account of the care standards being developed for England and Wales to ensure that all heart-children within the UK will be able to access excellent care.”
Read the full Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services Oral Statement on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety website.