CHF, the leading UK charity dedicated to supporting children with congenital and acquired heart conditions and their families, welcomes the publication today (Wednesday 24 August 2011) of the analysis of the responses to the Safe and Sustainable Children’s Heart Services in England consultation.
The findings reflect the respondents’ overwhelming emphasis on quality of service, which CHF has been asserting as parents’ top priority in discussions with policy makers, clinicians and NHS managers for many years. Other headlines from the report that reconfirm CHF’s mandate are the extremely strong support for having 24/7 care in each centre, the need to bear in mind the impact of the organisation of services on the wider family and strong support for improving data collection to drive up the standard of care.
Anne Keatley-Clarke, CHF’s Chief Executive asserts: “From listening to parents we hear that high quality care should take precedence because parents say that they would ‘travel to the moon’ to get the best surgery for their children and want ongoing care as close to home as possible. That is not to minimise the importance of travel for surgery, which poses particular problems for families on low incomes and where there is an extended hospital stay. As Safe and Sustainable moves forward, we will be pressing for alternatives to public transport for CHD families without use of a car, for better information about sources of funding to help with the costs of extended stays and a particular focus on support for long-stay families.”
Whilst remaining impartial on which units should continue to conduct operations, CHF supports the principle of having fewer, larger centres providing children’s heart surgery that work as part of a well-developed and effective network of local care.
Ms Keatley-Clarke comments,“To achieve the 24/7 care that 94% of people want, you have to bring surgeons together into larger teams at fewer centres. Parents want waiting times to be short and cancelled operations to be a thing of the past, so the NHS needs to push ahead with implementing the Safe and Sustainable standards.”