Cross-border access to Altnagelvin and emergency children’s heart services in Crumlin remains secure despite Brexit says Muiris O’Connor Assistant Secretary at Department of Health

A senior civil servant in the Department of Health in the south has insisted Altnagelvin will remain accessible to Donegal cancer and cardiology patients despite the fall out from Brexit.

By Kevin Mullan
Friday, 12th March 2021, 1:44 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 1:58 pm

Mr. Muiris O’Connor, assistant secretary at the Department’s R&D and health analytics division, said emergency children’s heart services in Dublin will equally remain open to citizens from the north.

The cardiology and cancer treatments in Altnagelvin and the paediatric cardiology and related maternity services in Dublin continue to operate on a cross-border, all-island basis, said Mr. O’Connor.

He was asked about the impact of Brexit at a briefing of the Seanad Special Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union this week.

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Cavan-based Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly suggested cross-border health co-operation was a means of ultimately delivering reunification.

“The one way one will achieve a united Ireland - we all aspire to that in our different ways - is to establish areas of co-operation and normalisation of relations. Health is an obvious one. That is seen as part of it. It was mentioned that there is still co-operation with Altnagelvin Area Hospital. Will the witnesses comment on how this is going forward with cross-border healthcare?” he asked.

Mr. O’Connor said: “Altnagelvin is absolutely secure and has a bright future. Our provision of emergency paediatric care to young infants from the North, from Crumlin now and soon to be from the children’s hospital will continue to be on an all-island basis.

“Something we were afraid of is that in our work to mitigate the implications of Brexit, we did not just want a pause, a freeze or to hold what we have because what we have in health is a trajectory of deepening co-operation. The Senator, from his neck of the woods, would see just how practical it is. It does not feel like international co-operation. It is community level health co-operation in most instances and it is thriving.”