The health section of the Irish Times (subs needed) reports that children from north of the border requiring some forms of cardiology or cardiac surgery services could be sent to Dublin in future for treatment as part of new plans under consideration. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland confirmed to the paper that the future of cardiology and cardiac surgery services for children there was currently being examined but that no decision had yet been taken on this issue.
Slightly more than 100 children each year in the North require cardiac surgery operations with the majority currently carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
The Department said it was committed to ensuring safe and sustainable paediatric cardiology, and cardiac surgery continues to be available to patients in Northern Ireland.
“To that end, the chief medical officer set up a working group in 2005 to address the future provision of these services and bring forward proposals on how they can be provided most effectively. As part of its remit, the group is exploring the possibility of partnership arrangements with other units, both in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
“No recommendation on the preferred model of care for paediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery has been made as yet,” it stated. Discussions are at an early stage but this could be one to watch, especially with the recent McKinsey consultancy report on services for children in Irish Republic recommending the development of one single national paediatric hospital.