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Screening Could Save Young Lives in Ulster

Filed under: News/Events - Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2006 @ 3:58 pm

A nurse specialising in sudden heart deaths is to take up an appointment at Ulster’s biggest hospital within the next few months.

The Belfast Telegraph recently revealed that the Cardiomyopathy Association-supplied post had been turned down at the Royal because of a funding row.

But hours after our story appeared, Department of Health chiefs stepped in. Health Minister Shaun Woodward said funding would be made available after all.

Initially, the charity had offered to make available £40,000 for the two-year appointment of the specialist nurse.

But the Royal said it could not guarantee “recurrent” funding for the past at that time.

Then in a statement, Mr Woodward said: “Undoubtedly a very strong case has been made for a specialist nurse.

“I am grateful to the Cardiomyopathy Association which has offered to pay for the post for the next two years.

“My department will take on this long-term commitment to fund this hurse thereafter. We can do this because of my commitment to take money out of bureaucracy and put it into front-line services.

“This is an absolutely important post and it is absolutely right that we should make this response.”

The association’s chief executive, Robert Hall, who visited Belfast recently, praised the Belfast Telegraph for highlighting the issue.

“We are grateful to the Belfast Telegraph for the story,” he said.

“We are very pleased that recurrent funding will be made available by the department and we look forward to working with the Royal.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday, cardiomyopathy nurse specialist Stephanie Cruickshank, who is based at the Heart Hospital in London, was among the guests at a special meeting of the association in Belfast.

Professor William McKenna, professor of cardiology at the Heart Hospital in London and one of the world’s leading authorities, addressed the gathering, attended by around 60 families affected by the condition.

The Cardiomyopathy Association campaigns for more heart screening for affected families and more genetic testing to find those at risk and to save lives.

For more information about cardiomyopathy call the association on freephone 0800 0181 024 or visit the website www.cardiomyopathy.org.

By Nigel Gould, Health Correspondent
(Belfast Telegraph, 27 February 2006)

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