Robin Swann MLA, has called on the Stormont Executive “to urgently set aside the necessary funding so that an all-island paefiatric cardiogy surgical network can be established.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Chairman, issued his call as he was re-elected Chairman of the Assembly’s All Party Group on Congenital Heart Disease.
The All Party Group on Congenital Heart Disease held its first meeting of the new term recently in Parliament Buildings, Stormont to elect officers and set out its plans for the year ahead. The cross party group takes interest in all aspects of the care and services for children with congenital heart disease and their families.
In the last mandate, it supported the campaign for the development of the all island paediatric surgical network, a children’s heart centre at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the introduction of pulse oximetry monitoring at birth.
The All Party Group, which is supported by the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, will be chaired by Assemblyman Swann, with North Antrim’s Daithí McKay MLA serving as Deputy Chair, and the UUP’s health spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA as Secretary and the SDLP’s Mark H Durkan MLA as treasurer.
Setting out the key issues for the group, Mr Swann said: “The development of the all-island surgical network for children with congenital heart disease is a key priority.
“It is not acceptable that children from Northern Ireland have to get on a plane to access these essential services and we will work with the new Health Minister to ensure that the network is developed without further delay.”
Sarah Quinlan, Chief Executive, Children’s Heartbeat Trust, added: “While the network is a hugely important issue, the All Party Group recognises that the continued development of the cardiology facilities in Belfast for children from right across Northern Ireland is also essential, and we look forward to their support for the development of the Children’s Heart Centre, as well as the other support services for families.
“The All Party Group is an important link between the MLAs in Stormont and the families of children with CHD, as well as other stakeholders, and we look forward to working with the group over the coming term as we campaign for the best care and services for heart children.”