Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Launch of the Report of the Cardiovascular Health Policy Group

10 June 2010

Changing Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010-2019

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today launched the Report of the Cardiovascular Health Policy Group, Changing Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010-2019.

The Group was established by the Minister to develop a policy framework for the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, which would ensure an integrated and quality assured approach in their management.  Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at RCSI was appointed by the Minister to Chair the Group developing the National Policy.

Professor McGee highlighted the importance of a 10-year national plan and the value of combining the challenges of cardiac and stroke healthcare in a single comprehensive cardiovascular health policy.  "This Government Policy sets specific mid-way and 10-year targets from health behaviours to maintain health to healthcare structures and services to manage ill-health. It is being matched by annual HSE service plans and Government Cabinet Committee oversight of population targets such as in smoking initiation and cessation rates. It is pleasing that RCSI has contributed in numerous ways to the development of the Policy. National benchmark studies such as SLAN 2007 on population health behaviour profiles and INASC 2008 on the quality of stoke services, both led by RCSI, formed essential evidence-based benchmarks for Policy planning and evaluation.

Noting that cardiovascular disease is the single largest cause of death in Ireland, the Minister said, Ireland has made considerable progress in the treatment of cardiovascular disease under the last strategy, Building Healthier Hearts.  Between 2002 and 2007 alone, the mortality rate for circulatory systems diseases such as heart attack and stroke decreased by 25%. There are new service developments including chest pain clinics, enhanced pre-hospital care and cardiac rehabilitation across the country. It’s now time to build on this and take it to a new level, based on medical evidence of what will deliver the best outcomes for patients in the years ahead.”

“The new Cardiovascular Health policy is basically about getting the best care to the patient at the right time in the right place delivered by the right experts at all stages. It is about implementing a higher level of care on a national, standardised basis, and to make this accessible in each region.  We are confident this new Policy will deliver better health and longer years of life for tens of thousands of Irish people.”

“Prevention, healthy living and primary care are as important in this strategy as the high tech interventions in major hospitals.  I am pleased that there is an emphasis on stroke prevention and care in the strategy.  We know that stroke units can reduce the length of stay and improve outcomes and dependency levels for patients who survive stroke.  There is also the potential to expand thrombolysis, offering the chance to reverse the onset of stroke”.

“I wish to thank the members of the Cardiovascular Health Policy Group, in particular the Chair, Professor Hannah McGee, who have given freely of their time and expertise in formulating the report.  The implementation of the progress it promises will be greatly facilitated by the quality of work done in its preparation.”

RCSI President Ms Eilis McGovern provided the cardiac surgical input as a member of the Policy Group. RCSI senior lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health Medicine Dr Emer Shelley was also a member of the Policy Group. Dr Shelley led the writing group for Ireland's first National Cardiac Strategy - "Building Healthier Hearts", launched in 1999. Today's policy launch marks the follow-on from 'Building Healthier Hearts'.

This report is available (in full text) at