Neil Johnson

Neil Johnson is Chief Executive of Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac & Stroke Foundation and the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology (Ireland). 


He has over 30 years leadership, management and development experience in the ‘not-for-profit’ sector, twenty five of which are in the field of cardiovascular health – delivering innovation across service development (both hospital & community) in prevention & rehabilitation; research, education & training; patient engagement and patient advocacy.

An experienced fundraiser, project & events manager; he has led, managed and driven the development of Croi and the impact it has had at every level of cardiac care, from pre-hospital to post-hospital recovery & rehabilitation. He has successfully planned, managed and delivered multi million euro fundraising initiatives, including major gifts, capital and annual campaigns. He has pioneered innovation in cardiovascular healthcare service provision, particularly in the areas of prevention and recovery and he led the establishment of Ireland’s first Heart & Stroke Centre in Galway, dedicated to the promotion of cardiovascular health and wellbeing which opened in 2012. He is a founder of the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology which is an affiliate of the National University of Ireland, Galway which now delivers an MSc in Preventive Cardiology. The Institute aims to lead the development of lifestyle medicine and preventive cardiology practice in Ireland and to produce a new generation of scholars and leaders in cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention.


Neil holds a Masters degree in Psychology from NUI Galway where he is an Honorary Clinical Fellow of the School of Medicine and leads an undergraduate special studies module for medical students on the ‘patient voice’. He is a member of the SAOLTA University Health Care Group Patient Council, being its first chairperson and he is a founding trustee of iHHub, the International alliance of heart failure patient organisations. He is a director of the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science & Industry (IPPOSI) where he currently chairs a sub-committee on Access to Medicines. He is the patient representative on the Irish Medtech Association (IBEC) Panel for the Code of Ethical Business Practice; is a steering committee member of the European Heart Failure Policy Network and regularly serves as a patient advocate on advisory boards for research groups and to the pharmaceutical industry.

In September , I chaired a European Parliament roundtable with MEPs and five other cardiac patient organisations on Heart Valve Disease and the Power of Positive Ageing. Our message was simple - heart valve disease is a barrier to active and healthy ageing: early detection, diagnosis and treatment with innovative medical technologies enables positive ageing. Equal access to these technologies was at the core of our discussion. Heart valve disease is a common and blameless disease of ageing. Around 13% of people aged over-75 have some form of the disease. It is both life-limiting and potentially life-threatening; 50% of people with severe aortic stenosis, the most common form of the disease, will die within 2 years if not appropriately treated. Yet, it does not have to be like this. Surgical heart valve repair or replacement are proven treatments and we are now living through a period of exciting and impressive advances in treating the disease with minimally invasive and keyhole techniques. Repairing or replacing a diseased valve can, in effect, cure the condition. Blood will once again flow through the heart the way in which nature designed it and patients can anticipate a better and longer quality of life. This is where the Power of Positive Ageing comes in. The ageing demographics of Europe are frequently viewed as a negative thing, whereas we believe and know that healthy older people contribute significantly and in very positive ways to our families, communities and economies. After all, we know that many people over the age of 65 care for their partners or look after grandchildren so that their own children can go to work. In the UK, Age UK estimates that this care is worth £15bn to the country’s economy. Here in Ireland, our senior population are literally running our communities by...