Plans to close specialist heart surgery units for children should be reconsidered and other options looked at, MPs have been told.
The joint committee of primary care trusts has reviewed the way youngsters’ heart surgery is delivered, with some units likely to shut.
The review recommended fewer, bigger centres. Supporters say centralising operations and surgeons will lead to better practice, but opponents fear families could have to travel hundreds of miles to access services.
Opening a short debate on the review of congenital cardiac services for children, Conservative Stuart Andrew told MPs clinicians and parents had raised “serious concerns” over the plans.
He said: “Of course we all want the best for our children and we want the best centres in the world.
“It is absolutely right and necessary that we learn from past mistakes in other units.”
But he added: “I’m really keen that this is not a campaign setting one centre against another, but that they are all judged equally.”
The NHS review looked at all 11 units in England amid concern expertise was being spread too thinly.
In total, there are 31 child heart surgeons across England performing 3,600 operations each year on children in England and Wales, born with a range of heart defects.
The review set out four options suggesting where units should remain. Option one was Newcastle, Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham and Bristol plus two in London.
Option two was Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Southampton plus two in London. Option three was Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol plus two in London.
The fourth option suggested units in Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham plus two in London.
Today’s motion welcomes “the aim of establishing more sustainable provision of congenital cardiac services in England”, but “calls on the joint committee not to restrict itself to the four options outlined in the review but instead to consider further options in making its final recommendations”.
A final decision will be made in the autumn.
Health minister Simon Burns said no decisions had yet been made and the consultation did not rule out having three units in the capital or making the Royal Brompton one of the two favoured sites.