Press Release

Heart Health Investment Showing Immediate Benefits

Statement by Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children at the launch of Ireland´s Changing Heart, the second report on implementation of the Heart Health Task Force

Significant returns on the €54 million investment in implementing the Cardiovascular Health Strategy were outlined today by Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children at the launch of Ireland´s Changing Heart, the second report on implementation of the Heart Health Task Force.

Commenting at the launch, the Minister said “Heart disease remains the single biggest killer in Ireland. Living with heart disease is an everyday reality for thousands of Irish people and their families. That is why in July 1999 the Government launched a blueprint – Building Healthier Hearts – to address this important cause of sickness and death”.

“Funding has provided for the appointment of almost 800 additional staff to support the Strategy´s implementation, including funding for 17 additional consultant cardiology posts. 109 extra cardiac rehabilitation staff are in place which means most acute hospitals treating people with heart disease have a structured cardiac rehabilitation service. 139 health promotion officers have also been appointed who provide guidance on smoking cessation, nutrition and exercise. Across the board, the additional staff will guarantee greater access to services and quality patient care in the future across all regions” said the Minister.

The Minister outlined that arising from the Strategy´s implementation and the monitoring system adopted to track its progress, “immediate benefits are evident from the wide range of new and higher quality services already available from this investment”. These include:

  • reduction in emergency call to treatment times,
  • regional self-sufficiency for non-invasive diagnostic procedures,
  • access to new services such as the Heartwatch programme, which since introduced last October is recruiting 14,000 patients with identified coronary heart disease and diabetes
  • the development chest pain clinics and cardiac rehabilitation,
  • almost 200% increase in certain cardiology procedures and the 24% reduction in the waiting list for cardiology procedures, and
  • the increase in the numbers now being detected and treated with chronic heart failure.

The Minister reiterated the Government´s commitment to continuing the implementation of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy in line with the principles of the National Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness.