The announcement by Health Minister Edwin Poots that an international team of experts will assess the current and future needs of paediatric cardiac patients in the North has been welcomed by local campaigners.
The announcement came yesterday after 18 months of speculation around the future of paediatric cardiac services, which are currently based in Belfast.
Mr Poots said that while the six month review was being carried out current treatment arrangements would remain in place, with Belfast receiving support from Dublin.
Yesterday Claire Ball, local spokesperson for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, welcomed the Minister’s announcement as “positive and hopeful”.
“Eighteen months ago, this all looked so different. In my opinion, those heartless people who undermined and attempted to eradicate this service completely and planned on sending very sick children to England for surgery should hang their heads in shame.
“To everyone who supported and fought for the retention of Cardiac surgery for children in Belfast and to the entire team at the children’s hospital who save lives every day, well done!
“An awful lot of families, friends and supporters deserve credit today for the change they brought about -and thankfully, the health minister listened.”
Claire’s daughter Hollie was born with a heart condition and she maintains that her daughter would not have survived if she had been forced to travel to England for treatment.
The review will examine the need for cardiology and cardiac surgery for congenital heart disease on an all-island basis.
It is to be completed and handed to both ministers by June next year.