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Health Minister launches public consultation for paediatric surgery improvement policies

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey today launched a public consultation to improve the quality of paediatric surgery in Northern Ireland.

The two draft policies set out standards for the way forward in both general paediatric surgery and paediatric ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) surgery, which all Trusts will be required to meet.

The Minister said: “Children have unique and specific medical and surgical requirements and we must ensure that they are cared for appropriately. These policies will have a huge impact on the quality of treatment and care administered to children who need to undergo surgery.

“I would urge everyone - from families of patients to healthcare professionals - to make their views known through this consultation process to ensure that we are doing all we can to improve paediatric surgery services in Northern Ireland.”

The implementation of the policies will:

  • ensure that all children, up to the age of 13, who require emergency or elective general or ENT surgery are managed in an appropriate environment by staff with the requisite skills;
  • seek to minimise any existing risks that are associated with these two fields of surgery; and
  • include a review process whereby the quality and safety of care will be assessed and monitored.

The policies have been drafted to address a number of challenges that have been faced in the delivery of paediatric surgical services throughout the UK in recent years. This includes developments in clinical practice, surgical training and increasing sub-specialisation.

The consultation period will run until 15 January, 2010.

Notes to Editors:

1. The draft policy documents and accompanying questionnaires can be accessed via the Department’s website, A hard copy of the documents can be provided upon request.

2. The policies, entitled Improving Services for General Paediatric Surgery and Improving Services for Paediatric ENT Surgery, establish 13 and nine separate standards respectively to which the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts are to attain.

3. Prior to the development of the new draft policies, this area was governed by the report, Paediatric Surgical Services in Northern Ireland (1999). This can be accessed online.

4. In July 2007, the Children’s Surgical Forum (CSF) of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published its report, Surgery for Children: Delivering a First Class Service. This is available online.

5. The CSF report sets out up-to-date standards on the organisation and delivery of surgical care to the young. Given the broad representation and professional standing of the CSF, this report forms the basis of the revised policy for provision of paediatric surgery in Northern Ireland.

6. General paediatric surgery and paediatric ENT surgery working groups were established to review the policy in Northern Ireland. The working groups had multidisciplinary representation from across Northern Ireland.

7. Media enquiries should be referred to DHSSPS’ press office on 02890 520074. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.