Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Cardiac review must consider vulnerable children

Following your article, 'Stormont consultation over children's cardiac services "a farce"' (News, February 5), I am writing on behalf of the vulnerable patients with potentially fatal heart problems who could be at grave risk without vital heart checks.

As chair of the all-party group on muscular dystrophy in the Assembly, I want to draw your attention to the McCollum report, published last year by my group.

We heard evidence from families whose children have severe, life-shortening, muscle-wasting conditions. Some families were missing out on vital cardiac check-ups, or going years between appointments with specialists.

Cardiac management can play a critical role in extending life expectancy, which is why the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is calling for health and social care in Northern Ireland to ensure that children with severe muscle-wasting conditions have their hearts checked at regular intervals.

Not all families living with these conditions are aware that their children may have underlying cardiac problems, so it is essential that these are routinely monitored. The review of children's cardiac services should take these points into account. We need to ensure that children with conditions which affect the heart receive appropriate care and support.

CONALL McDEVITT (SDLP)

MLA for South Belfast

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