Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the health minister’s statement today giving certainty to two significantly important issues – children’s cardiac surgery and radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin.
“I welcome this announcement by health minister Jim Wells. It will bring a degree of certainty to these two crucial health issues.
“I accept that many parents have expressed anxiety around the prospect of Children’s cardiac surgical procedures no longer being carried out in Belfast. However, I believe the assurance that a cardiac centre of excellence will be set up in the city to provide diagnostics and aftercare to northern-based children with congenital heart defects will be reassuring to those parents.
“I would urge the Minister to include positions on his governance group through which parents voices will be heard. He also needs to ensure that contingency measures are in place to cater for unforeseen circumstances during the transition between ending surgical procedures in Belfast and Dublin becoming fully operational.
“I believe that the single all-Ireland surgical unit to be based in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at Crumlin, Dublin once fully operational will provide a more professional and superior standard of provision than a unit in Belfast which is underutilised.
“I am also delighted that the minister has confirmed the Radiotherapy Unit for Altnagelvin will proceed as planned to be operational by 2016.
“This will be a great relief to those many cancer patients from Derry, Donegal, Sligo and the rest of the north west, who presently have to undergo long and arduous journeys to Belfast or Dublin for treatment.” CRÍOCH/END