Health Ministers welcome the appointment of Professors of Paediatric Cardiology by the All-Island Congenital Heart Disease Network

Date published: 25 March 2022

Health Ministers Robin Swann MLA and Stephen Donnelly TD and have jointly welcomed the appointment by the All-Island Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Network of two Professors of Paediatric Cardiology on the island of Ireland.

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Professor Colin McMahon has been appointed in University College Dublin (UCD) and Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), while Professor Frank Casey has been appointed to a joint post between Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

The All-Island CHD Network, which was established in 2015 by then Ministers for Health in Northern Ireland and Ireland, provides high quality and timely access to specialist cardiac services for all children and young people on the island of Ireland. To date, the Network has overseen transformative change including the transfer of all Northern Ireland emergency, urgent and new elective surgery from Great Britain to CHI at Crumlin, and the opening of the newly refurbished Children’s Heart Centre at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 2019. These two appointments now represent a significant step forward towards another key objective of the Network, the collaborative development of research and innovation.

Minister Robin Swann said: “The All-island CHD Clinical Network is the exemplar of what true partnership working in a modern day health service looks like. I am reassured that any baby born with congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland now has access to a level of care comparable to anywhere in the world, which is a testament to the continued commitment and dedication of all involved. I welcome these two appointments, working collaboratively on the research programme marks the start of the “world class phase” of the all-island CHD Network, which commenced clinical services on an all-island basis in 2015, bringing further benefits to  children on this island living with a congenital heart condition.”

Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “The collaborative and jointly-funded work of the All Island Congenital Heart Disease Network to date has been transformative, built on the hard work and dedication of all those within the Network. Research is fundamental to supporting excellence in healthcare, and these appointments are a significant step forward in the research agenda and mark another milestone in the ongoing work of delivering best outcomes for the benefit of children and families throughout this island.”

Dr Len O’Hagan, Chair of the All Island CHD Network said: “Today children on the island of Ireland with congenital heart disease experience expert clinical care through the All-Island CHD Network. The establishment of this important collaborative research initiative will ensure that we provide existing care in the best way possible and play an important role in the discovery of new treatment options.”

 The planned development of an all-island CHD research strategy will help to attract the highest calibre of staff, support best practice learning and develop high quality training programmes for all staff caring for children and families with CHD. The two new professorships will also play an important role in the ongoing development of a Paediatric Academic Health Science Network, a partnership between CHI and university partners, to create an island-wide academic research and education network.

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