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‘Pragmatic solutions’ will be found in cross-border care post-Brexit

Dr Albert McNeill, former President of the Irish Cardiac Society (ICS), spoke with the Medical Independent (MI) during the recent ICS 70th Annual Scientific Meeting and AGM regarding the ongoing chaos around Britain leaving the EU and how this might or might not affect cross-border cardiac care and collaboration. In a previous interview with MI, Dr McNeill, Consultant Cardiologist at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, had expressed his hopes and expectations that common sense would prevail and that politics and bureaucracy would not stymie the current fruitful and effective collaborations between cardiac physicians north and south of the border.

“As someone who lives and works in the North of Ireland and therefore part of the UK, this has been a big concern for us,” he said. “Not just from the point of view of providing the cross-border services, as we do between Derry/Londonderry and Donegal for primary PCI [percutaneous coronary intervention], but also for freedom of movement for cross-border workers, availability of drug therapies, and so on.

“So I think in terms of patient flow, we can be happy that there will not be a barrier to that,” said Dr McNeill. “A deal has been struck, but [at time of writing] that still has to get through the UK parliament and there is no guarantee of that happening. I believe the view that most professionals take is that regardless of what happens, there will be some kind of pragmatic solution, whether the deal goes through or whatever else happens in terms of patient flow, availability of drug therapies and cross-border workflow. There are a lot of people who work in the North and live in the South, and vice-versa.”

In terms of the conference overall and its significance as the 70th such occasion, Dr McNeill said: “It’s always rewarding to participate in the international session and I am delighted to have to opportunity to share that.”

“These are people who really are at the leading-edge, global cardiologists, such as the President of the President of the British Cardiovascular Society, the President-Elect of the European Society of Cardiology, the past-President of the American Society of Cardiology.

“But the other aspect is, there are the young cardiologists who work either as registrars on the island here or in fellowships abroad who are bringing leading-edge research home, and we have seen this in the abstracts presented on topics like electrophysiology and intervention, for example. It’s very interesting to see the cream of these young people presenting in the Young Investigators Award,” he added. “The future is most definitely bright for Irish cardiology.” 

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