In an interview with BBC News Northern Ireland for their Good Morning Ulster programme, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson stated that patients in a Belfast based cardiac unit awaiting operations “had to wait three weeks because the equipment had to be sourced from another country because we couldn't get it from our own country because of the protocol".
Following that, he also claimed that Southern Trust patients who were in need of heart surgery had to be relocated to the Belfast Trust for care because German-made angiography parts still needed to be ordered.
“Sir Jeffrey apologies over NI protocol and Belfast cardiac operation mixup“
The Belfast Health Trust responded to this statement, declaring that his remarks lacked "substance."
The agreement between Northern Ireland and the EU essentially prevents a hard border by keeping Northern Ireland in the blocs’ single market for goods. However, it necessitates additional inspections for products coming from the UK.
Later, Sir Jeffrey realised his mistake and explained that he has "had ongoing contact with the trust about this, the trust have apologised that the information I was given was inaccurate - not so much the fact this equipment had broken down and that cardiac procedures had to be postponed."
"on this occasion it was the size of the equipment was the issue and they were able to source it from the supplier in Germany - and that the protocol on this occasion was not the problem."
The Southern Health Trust clarified that the necessary equipment was were purchased from a German Manufacturer at the beginning of August. "The trust confirmed that the service disruption was in no way connected to the Northern Ireland Protocol and expressed disappointment that Sir Jeffrey appeared to have been misinformed by sources about the issue on this occasion."
But although wrong this time, Sir Jeffrey said that acquiring medications is still difficult and the protocol remains to provide "very real problems".
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