Internationally led Expert Assessment to Recommend the Optimal All-Island Hospital Service for Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery for Congenital Heart Disease in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Minister James Reilly, TD and Minister Edwin Poots MLA today (Monday, 9 December 2013) 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.

Minister Reilly said “This assessment is intended to lead to the establishment of an integrated service for cardiology and congenital cardiac surgery for all the children of this island, based on international best practice. I am very pleased that such an eminent group of clinicians have agreed to dedicate so much of their time over the next few months to help us achieve this goal of an effective integrated service which will be so important to the children of this island and their families.”

Minister Poots said “I believe that the assessment by this external team of experts will bring international best practice and fresh thinking to bear on this challenging issue. I am pleased that they have accepted this assignment and look forward to receiving their advice. I want to thank health service management and clinicians in the Republic of Ireland for engaging with their colleagues in Belfast to provide and develop support to the services in Northern Ireland. My key priority throughout this process has been, and remains, to ensure the delivery of a safe and sustainable service for these vulnerable children.”

Ends

Note to Editors

1. Expert Team

2. Draft Terms of Reference

i) To examine the current and projected need for cardiology and cardiac surgery for congenital heart disease in both jurisdictions and on an all-Island basis.

ii) To describe existing services and provision in both jurisdictions and on an all-Island basis.

iii) To outline the options for service configuration and supporting governance arrangements which will support a model or models of care that meets the population health needs and other requirements of both jurisdictions.

iv) To evaluate and score these models according to explicit criteria as follows:

v) To engage in appropriate consultation with stakeholders including family representatives and patient groups as well as key health professionals\providers and health professionals from related relevant specialties.

vi) To provide to an oversight group (made up of the Chief Medical Officers North and South and the respective heads of the Acute Hospital Policy Divisions in both Departments), interim contact reports and first draft assessment report for quality assurance by the Departments.

vii) To recommend a model based on the foregoing to both Ministers within six months of establishment.