A PLEDGE to safeguard future provision of congenital heart surgery in Northern Ireland has been signed by two East Antrim MLAs.
Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs and Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan signed the pledge, which states: “The safety of children and adults in Northern Ireland relies on continued congenital heart surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
“I pledge to ensure that this world-class service continues and that children here can avail of the best surgical services in Belfast, Dublin and across centres in Britain. I will vote against any move to remove this surgery from Belfast.”
Following the signing event, which was attended by representatives from the Children’s Heartbeat Trust along with families of children with congenital heart surgery, the charity’s executive officer Sarah Quinlan said: “Ensuring the future safe provision of congenital heart surgery in Northern Ireland is vitally important for the many children, teenagers and adults who rely on the expertise and treatment provided by the excellent surgical and cardiology team at the Royal in Belfast.
“It is clear that any removal of surgery from Belfast would put at risk the lives of children born with critical congenital heart problems which are impossible to diagnose before birth. Also, the implications for other services, lack of 24/7 transport and the threat to the wider children’s hospital, mean that the future of this surgery must be secured through an all-island network operating between Dublin and Belfast, and continued links with units in Britain.
“Clinical and paediatric experts were clear that future provision must include surgery in Belfast, and this view has been supported by the Health Minister.
“MLAs from every party and every constituency have supported the views of doctors, families and other clinical staff that retaining surgery in Belfast is the only option which ensures a safe service,” added Sarah.
Families will be taking pledges to every constituency in Northern Ireland urging more MLAs to sign the pledge.