Swann presses Poots to save baby heart unit

ROBIN Swann, the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member for North Antrim and Chairman of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee, has pressed Health Minister Edwin Poots to give “a cast iron guarantee” that paediatric cardiac surgery will continue at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Assemblyman Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Chairman and Party Chief Whip, told Minister Poots he was declaring an interest, “as I have a three-month-old son currently awaiting cardiac surgery.”

Mr Swann has been campaigning vigorously to overturn a decision to transfer such cardiac surgery to the Irish Republic.

The North Antrim UUP added: “When the recommendation was made, Dr Reilly, the Minister for Health in the Irish Republic, seemed very well briefed.

“How far on are the negotiations between his Department and the Minister’s about the potential of moving all the surgery to Dublin?”

Minister Poots told Mr Swann: “There will be a discussion in the next two to three weeks which will assist us in furthering the outcome.”

Reacting to Mr Poots’ brief answer, Mr Swann said: “It is absolutely vital that this decision is overturned and that we retain this much-needed cardiac surgery in Northern Ireland.

“It makes no sense whatsoever to move this type of surgery to the Irish Republic and I remain, as does my party, vehemently opposed to any such ridiculous decision.”