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Trusts criticise congenital heart services proposals

Controversial plans for implementing new standards governing care for patients with congenital heart disease have been revealed.
Leicester Royal Infirmary

Controversial plans for implementing new standards governing care for patients with congenital heart disease have been revealed by the health service.

NHS England launched the 16-week public consultation earlier this month on how its new quality standards published in 2015 should be adopted by hospitals.

However, concerns have been raised about two of the proposals which, if approved, would see surgery and interventional cardiology for children and adults cease at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBH) and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL).

In the case of RBH, the new standards require a number of other paediatric services, including asthma, complex lung disease and cystic fibrosis, to be located on the same site as the surgical team by April 2019.

NHS England claims the trusts have

Controversial plans for implementing new standards governing care for patients with congenital heart disease have been revealed by the health service.


University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has raised concerns about the plans.
Picture: Newsteam

NHS England launched the 16-week public consultation earlier this month on how its new quality standards published in 2015 should be adopted by hospitals.

However, concerns have been raised about two of the proposals which, if approved, would see surgery and interventional cardiology for children and adults cease at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBH) and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL).

In the case of RBH, the new standards require a number of other paediatric services, including asthma, complex lung disease and cystic fibrosis, to be located on the same site as the surgical team by April 2019.

NHS England claims the trusts have no firm plan in place to meet this requirement.

‘It makes no sense’

Responding, RBH director of nursing and clinical governance Joy Godden said: ‘I cannot understand how this plan would result in patients receiving better care.

‘It makes no sense to try and improve care by closing such a large and well-performing service, or by destroying research teams that are leading the way in finding new treatments for the future.

‘The trust has held many meetings with NHS England, and provided evidence showing how we already achieve excellent clinical outcomes for congenital heart disease patients.

‘I hope that NHS England uses the consultation to genuinely take note of these views and to develop more sensible plans.’

Petition

UHL chief executive John Adler said his organisation has already presented a 130,000-signature petition against the proposals to Downing Street.

He said: ‘We fundamentally disagree with what NHS England is proposing, not out of parochial self-interest, but because we fail to see how the closure of a growing, high-performing centre, with excellent results, is in any way in the interests of patients.

‘Nonetheless, we will continue to engage with the process and constructively respond to the consultation, as will the many thousands of local people, doctors and nurses from across the region.’

The Royal College of Surgeons and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery have both issued statements supporting the proposals on implementing standards.

Patient safety

NHS England’s national clinical director for heart disease Huon Gray said: ‘It’s our job to organise services so that every adult and child with congenital heart disease in this country gets not just safe or good care, but excellent care.

‘No final decisions have been made, and whether or not they are carried out in the way we’ve suggested is subject to the outcome of public consultation, so we encourage everyone with an interest to get involved.’

The consultation runs until Monday 5 June and is available here


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