STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

NHS plan to shut child heart surgery units causes outcry

NHS England defied as it seeks to boost surgeons’ skills with bigger pool of patients at fewer sites, shutting Royal Brompton, Leicester and Manchester units

Two large hospitals, the Royal Brompton in London and Glenfield hospital in Leicester, have defied plans from NHS England to close their heart surgery units for children. NHS England has tried to settle a bitter 15-year argument following the deaths of babies at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, whose heart surgeons were not as skilled as others elsewhere. The 2001 Kennedy review into the tragedy said some units had to close so that the remaining surgeons operated on enough tiny hearts to be as good as they could be at the complex procedures. But nobody can agree which units these should be.

The new review by NHS England says the units at Royal Brompton and Glenfield must child heart surgery. Both fought judicial reviews against earlier closure proposals and they appear prepared to do so again. The third hospital trust named was Central Manchester, which operates on children and adults born with heart defects.

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