BaileNuachtCartlann Aitheasc agus Preaseisiúintí

Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., for the Official Opening of the Cardiac Renal Centre


A dhaoine uaisle;

Tá áthas orm cuairt a thabhairt ar Ospidéal Ollscoil Chorcaigh inniu chun an Ionad Cairdiach Duánach nua a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Ionad iontach is ea é a chuirfidh feabhas ar an gcúram a thugtar d'othair i reigiún Chorcaigh agus Chiarraí araon. Deánaim comhghairdeachas le gach duine a raibh páirt acu i bhforbairt agus i gchur chun cinn na seirbhíse nua tábhachtach seo.

Thank you for inviting me here today, to open this wonderful new facility - the Cardiac Renal Centre at the Cork University Hospital. It is truly world class and will provide much improved services to the people of the Cork and Kerry region. It has taken many years of work by many people to get where the centre is today and I would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work and dedication. This centre of excellence will benefit patients hugely and that is after all what the health service is about.

It is particularly gratifying for me as during my tenure as Minister for Health, I announced what was then considered to be a radical new programme to tackle cardiovascular disease, the Cardiovascular Health strategy. The strategy, which became known as Building Healthier Hearts, was initiated to address what was, at that time, an epidemic of heart disease in Ireland. It was the second biggest cause of premature death accounting for almost one third of deaths in people under 65.

Ireland has made considerable progress since then. Between 2002 and 2007 alone, mortality for circulatory diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, fell by a quarter. There has been significant investment in new service developments, including chest pain clinics, better pre-hospital care and cardiac rehabilitation across the country. In addition, my colleague and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, has announced the new Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010-2019. It demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to delivering better health and longer life for tens of thousands of Irish people.

The new Cardiovascular Health Policy focuses on patients getting the best care in the right place at the right time, delivered by the right experts at all stages. The Government is committed to policies that are clearly based on evidence of best outcomes, and that are led by people committed to working with all their colleagues to deliver the results we all seek. The new Cardiovascular Policy also links with the policies for cancer and diabetes to ensure that services are structured to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

The Cardiac Renal Centre here in Cork is a major step in achieving the delivery of high quality and timely care in the Cork and Kerry region. The renal unit, with its additional capacity and better access for patients, will greatly improve the lives of those who depend on dialysis to survive. Patient care will be greatly enhanced, with access, on one site, to a multi disciplinary team that includes medical, nursing, allied health and support staff. In addition, these state of the art facilities will produce better experiences of treatment for our patients and will lead to a far better quality of life.

Looking at the facilities in this new unit, I am struck by the huge strides that have been made in cardiology services. Patient safety is driving fundamental changes in the healthcare system. The overwhelming consensus among clinical experts is that demonstrably better outcomes, as already seen in cancer care, are achieved for patients if complex care is delivered where the necessary staff and equipment are available and, crucially, where there are sufficient volumes of activity. The process is well underway in the Southern region and will embrace all acute services across the six Cork and Kerry hospitals. I have no doubt that the opening of this new centre will result in improved health outcomes for the people of Cork and Kerry.

The management of cardiovascular disease covers all aspects of health care from childhood through to old age, from pre-hospital emergency care to rehabilitation and palliative care. The Cardiac Renal Centre is a major step in the campaign against these debilitating and often fatal diseases.

The Cardiac Renal Centre has been achieved through a remarkable time of change and is the embodiment of what the Croke Park deal is about. Management and all staff are to be congratulated on how they approached this project in a spirit of partnership. This type of progress is heartening in these tough times.

I believe that transfers from two wards and the opening of the new out patients and two CAT labs will be completed by mid November. In addition the complete transfer of cardiac theatres, ICU and cardiac surgery ward will betake place in January.

I would like to sincerely thank and congratulate all of the people who made today possible. The CEO Mr Tony McNamara, the Cardiac Renal Centre Project Team members - including the patient representatives from the Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Heart Foundation and particularly all of the staff involved.