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‘Solution needed’ for children’s heart ops

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson campaigning for the retention of local Childrens Cardiac Surgery facilities with Heartbeat Trust campaigners in ASDA Portadown. From left, Sarah Quinlan, Cormac Haffey, Kate Haffey, Judith McKee, Julie Flaherty and Jo-Anne Dobson MLA.

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson campaigning for the retention of local Childrens Cardiac Surgery facilities with Heartbeat Trust campaigners in ASDA Portadown. From left, Sarah Quinlan, Cormac Haffey, Kate Haffey, Judith McKee, Julie Flaherty and Jo-Anne Dobson MLA.

An urgent solution is needed if children’s heart surgery is to have a future in Belfast.

This was the stark warning from Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson who met recently with local campaigners for the charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust as they continue their fight to retain a Belfast-based service.

A deadline for a resolution is approaching at the start of next week and Mrs Dobson pledged to continue her battle.

She said, “There is a groundswell of public support behind this campaign and I and my Ulster Unionist colleagues will continue to fight alongside parents who feel so passionately about the retention of a local service.

“The debate on the future of local Children’s Heart surgery centres on the retirement of Professor Fred Wood, one of the two main heart surgeons in Belfast, who will leave his job on December 9.

“I am calling on the Health Minister, Edwin Poots, to become Santa for local children suffering from heart disease and deliver a local service for them. Failure to do so will undoubtedly have the potential to put these children’s lives at risk.

“My message to the Minister is that it’s not too late to put something in place for these children and their families. We know that Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin is only able to take on emergency cases and that the risk is that from December onwards Belfast will not be an option as it takes two surgeons to provide the service.

“This situation leaves a very real fear amongst parents that all other specialist children’s services offered locally are left vulnerable in the future. Many parents have told me they feel there is little point in investing in a new Children’s hospital if there won’t be adequate facilities available in it.

“The Minister must step forward and announce plans to save the local service and provide hope to parents and their children across Northern Ireland who depend on the specialist skills being available locally for their children, both now and in the future.”

 

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