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Cardiologist ‘can’t imagine’ border delays following Brexit

Dr Albert McNeill, Consultant Cardiologist at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Derry, said the primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) service introduced at the hospital in 2014 had saved lives and must not be impacted by Brexit.

PPCI is the gold standard but time-limited treatment for a major heart attack (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction — STEMI).

Since May 2016, Donegal patients transferred from Letterkenny University Hospital have had access to the life-saving service at Altnagelvin Area Hospital.

The service has been hugely successful, with more than 100 patients from Donegal treated.  

However, PPCI is time-critical and must be performed within two hours from when a patient initially arrives at hospital.

Crucially, receiving treatment as soon as possible improves patient survival and reduces the long-term damage caused by heart attacks. 

Dr McNeill said he believes “common sense will prevail” in the interest of patient care.

“Over the last two years, we have done cross-border percutaneous coronary intervention for Donegal patients who come to Derry when they’ve had their [infarction],” Dr McNeill said.

“From a pragmatic and sensible point of view, I can’t honestly imagine a situation where there will be a line of ambulances sitting at the border waiting to go through. I think the political will and the clinical and public opinion will be that the patients will continue to come after Brexit because it’s a service which is working so well.

“The service can literally be the difference between a patient dying and surviving. I can’t see that bureaucracy is going to be allowed to prevent that service from continuing to work.”

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