Hospitals in Leicester, Leeds and the Royal Brompton in London are to stop performing heart surgery on children, it has been announced.
In a move to streamline paediatric heart services, three of the 10 specialist units in England will stop performing such procedures on children. The move comes after an NHS review which concluded that expertise was spread too thinly in the 10 sites and should be concentrated in fewer hospitals.
The Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London, Leeds General Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital in Leicester will not stop providing surgery immediately as plans to implement the new streamlined service are still being developed.
It is understood that the hospitals will continue to provide the specialist procedures throughout 2013. Once they stop providing surgery the units will still see patients for diagnosis, monitoring and non-surgical treatment.
Mike Collier, chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This result flies in the face of logical health care planning and plain common sense. We genuinely believe that the decision will not deliver the stated aims of the Safe and Sustainable Paediatric Cardiac Services review.
“This decision seems almost perverse in light of the information which became available during the course of the consultation process. We are surprised that the very clear wishes of over 600,000 people from this region appear to have been disregarded.
“On geography and population density alone the case for Leeds remains as strong as ever. We will now carefully consider, with our supporters, what action to take as a result of this very disappointing decision.”
The institutions which will now house the specialist surgery centres are: Evelina Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, Great Ormond Street, both in London, Southampton General Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
The Children’s Heart Federation welcomed the decision. Chief executive Anne Keatley-Clarke said: “The delays to planned improvements in children’s heart services caused a great deal of uncertainty for parents and professionals, so we are pleased for them that this has come to an end.”
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “This announcement will allow the NHS to get on with making long-overdue and necessary changes. We have had eleven years of debate on this issue. Now is the time to act and get children’s care to highest standard possible.”
Source: The Local