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Belfast Trust officially open Children’s Heart Centre

13th June 2019

Rory Best and Amy opening the Children's Heart Centre

Belfast Trust formally opened the Children’s Heart Centre at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children on 13th June. The Centre, part of the All Island Network, provides out-patient and diagnostic services for children with congenital heart disease.

The Congenital Heart Disease All Island Network was established in March 2015, and is the first of its kind, providing an all-island service surpassing politics and borders. The network manages a delivery model for congenital heart disease, building on existing services and drawing them together in a system of care which is patient focused and locally responsive.

The opening of the new Centre will provide holistic pre and post-operative care needs for children requiring surgery in Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin. The Centre contains state of the art clinical and diagnostic equipment, which has been kindly donated by Children’s Heartbeat Trust, in addition to the furnishing of the Family Day Room, a quiet space for patients and their families to wait for consultations and test results.

The Trust continues its partnership with the All-Island CHD Network to build on the existing infrastructure and resource as part of the overall vision to create a world class CHD service across the island. The opening of the Children’s Heart Centre is the next logical step in this network.

Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly said ““I am delighted to participate in the opening of the enhanced state of the art Clarke Clinic today, where children with congenital heart disease (CHD) conditions and their families will receive local access to pre and post- surgical care from a dedicated team of staff. This £1million capital investment to enhance existing facilities is a significant milestone in the further development of the all-island CHD Network which was established in March 2015. This is part of the investment previously committed to by Ministers to provide high quality and timely access to specialist cardiac services for all children and young people on an all-island basis. Importantly for patients and their families from Northern Ireland it fulfils the Department’s commitment to provide a sustainable CHD service as close to home as possible. The next step in this will be to provide enhanced diagnostics services in hospitals around Northern Ireland as part of the all-island Network.

“I take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment of the All-island Children’s Heart Disease Network, led by Dr Len O’Hagan, to realising its vision of a world-class all-island Network service, the first clinical network of its kind, which brings together clinicians, patients’ charities, service commissioners and providers in a collaborative endeavour to maximise the resources available across the island. The Department of Health will continue to work in partnership with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland to ensure that this network is sustained in the future.”

Professor Frank Casey, Belfast Trust said “The new Children’s Heart Centre is a very important development to improve the service we can provide to children with heart problems. It gives us a modern, child friendly facility in which we have brought together outpatient and inpatient care as well as a cardiac investigations department. The Children’s Heart Centre helps us to secure and develop the long term future of Paediatric Cardiology services in Northern Ireland and I hope will benefit all the families under our care.

Chairman of the All-Island Congenital Heart Disease All Island Network, Dr Len O’Hagan said; “The All-Island Congenital Heart Disease Network consists of hundreds of people, from surgeons to family members who have proved that the love of their children surpasses politics and borders. They are role models for all citizens, north and south, working together to deliver what really matters on our small island. The opening of the Children’s Heart Centre is an important milestone in the delivery of our vision of a world class service across the island for children with congenital heart disease”.

Speaking at the opening, Sarah Quinlan, Chief Executive of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, said “The development of a dedicated Children’s Heart Centre has been an important part of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust’s vision for a world-class care pathway for children with congenital heart disease, and is an essential part of the All Island CHD Network. We are delighted to have provided substantial funding to develop this facility as a warm and welcoming child-focused environment, which we know relieves the stress and tension of hospital visits for both the child and their families. It is wonderful that the Children’s Heart Centre is now up and running for heart children from across Northern Ireland, who will now receive care here right through to young adulthood.”

Welcoming the opening of the Children’s Heart Centre Minister Simon Harris TD said “I warmly welcome the opening of the Children’s Heart Centre in Belfast. The success of the all-island Congenital Heart Disease Network is hugely significant for children and families affected by CHD and the establishment of specialist cardiology centres that provide diagnostics and pre- and post-operative care close to the patient’s home are vital elements of our vision for a world class all-island Network.”