A Sinn Fein councillor’s motion calling on Health Minister, Edwin Poots, to explore and all-island approach for paediatric congenital cardiac services has been unanimously passed at Coleraine Borough Council.
Councillor Ciaran Archibald told fellow councillors how he had “first hand” knowledge of what a family with a child with a heart problem would experience as his own son and his brother have experienced similar problems.
He told the meeting: “This is not a political agenda, this motion is calling for the best possible care for a sick child.
His motion called on the Health Minister “to reassure parents that the future services model for Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services will prioritise the needs of their children” and for Mr Poots “to explore fully an all-island solution with his counterpart Dr James Reilly.”
Independent councillor David McClarty said that he and councillor Archibald had attended a meeting at Coleraine Leisure Centre organised by local families who were concerned that services may be moving away from Belfast.
“There is great depth of feeling,” said councillor McClarty. “Children in a very delicate condition may not survive a journey to England. We should be doing all in our power to save what’s in Belfast or in Dublin.”
Alliance councillor Yvonne Boyle, also supported the motion, saying: “The health and well being of the child is paramount here.”
UUP councillor William McCandless proposed an amendment to the motion uring Mr Poots to “reassure parents, families and communities that future services and research for Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services will have top priority to ensure safe, sustainable and high quality models of care; and further calls on the Minister to explore fully a range of options within the context of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland to enhance user choice, provide needs matches services and promote better outcomes.”
The amendment was seconded by councillor David Harding, who added: “It is vital that we don’t lose sight of the fact that the child is the most important.”
DUP councillor Adrian McQuillan said he could support both the motion and proposed amendment: “It is important that we give the Minister freedom to let him look at all of the options and make a proper decision.”
Councillor McClarty added: “I wish those here had gone to the meeting to hear the stories. Air travel puts a sick child in a dangerous position”.
“I would appeal that rather than splitting the vote we support the motion put forward by councillor Archibald.”
On being put to a vote the motion was carried.