NICE conference focus

Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 10 11

The government has come under fire for rejecting advice from an expert review set up by the Bristol inquiry which said specialist heart teams should carry out no less than 300 operations a year.

In its ongoing consultation, the Department of Health rejects the key recommendation of the expert review of paediatric and congenital cardiac services that all such teams must carry out 300 operations per year.

Instead, it proposes each unit should undertake a minimum of 100 operations per year - or that no minimum standards should be set but other standards to assure quality and safety be introduced, along with improved audit.

Maria Shortis, whose daughter died at Bristol Royal Infirmary and who is chief executive of charity Constructive Dialogue for Clinical Accountability, told the conference that this created 'a danger of endorsing occasional practice'. CDCA is one of several groups which contributed to the review.

She said: 'Increasing the number of operations to 300 a year would have meant the need for collaboration between specialist centres, and the people we spoke to were prepared to bite the bullet on that.'

She urged delegates to take part in the public consultation process on the review, which runs until 28 February.

www. doh. gov. uk/childcardiac/ reviewnov02. htm