A great example of cross border cooperation. More needed

This is a key example of the sort of all-island planning that should be speeded up in all sectors.  Good to see that flag waving doesn’t come into it. But the “black hole” must be filled.

.. fears have been voiced that more families will face a uncertainty over where operations will take place in England until Dublin has the capacity to cope..

“Surgery stops in Belfast in eight weeks – there is a potential black hole for months with children being sent all over the UK because Belfast will not have the provision to take them or Dublin.”

Mr Varadkar said: “The immediate impact of the removal of surgery from Belfast is that more children from Northern Ireland are likely to receive elective surgery at a specialist centre in Great Britain, as required, until appropriate capacity is in place in Crumlin.”

A cardiac centre of excellence will also be set up in Belfast to provide diagnostics and aftercare children with congenital heart defects.

Dr Mayer said that it was now impossible for such highly-skilled clinicians to stay in just one location.

He said their counterparts in Ireland must be prepared to travel between the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

Dr Mayer, who spent a week in Ireland earlier this year, said that compared to distances travelled by families and medical staff in America, travel in Ireland should not be a hurdle.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London