Health service leaders in the north have suggested that congenital heart surgery will be withdrawn from at least one hospital in the region.

Congenital cardiac services, including child heart surgery, are currently being reviewed nationally by NHS England, following a number of failed centralisation plans.


There have been a number of attempts to centralise children’s heart surgery since the Bristol scandal

There are currently 11 centres providing the services nationally, including Central Manchester Hospitals Foundation Trust, Alder Hey Children’s FT, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals FT in the north.

Although NHS England  proposed a new three tier care model in July, it has to outline the number and locations of specialist sites.

However, an update in Central Manchester Hospitals’ latest board papers said: “New potential service models for the north of England were discussed at a meeting held in August, facilitated by the national clinical director for heart disease.

“Of the four existing sites (Manchester, Alder Hey, Leeds and Newcastle), it is anticipated that under the new service model there will be no more than three centres.

“The Manchester proposal is based on our ability to achieve all of the standards in particular the co-location of surgery for adults and children and specialised maternity services.”

The latest reconfiguration plan follows a number of attempts to centralise children’s heart surgery on fewer sites, following the public inquiry into the Bristol heart scandal, which reported in 2001.

The most recent attempt, under the Safe and Sustainable Review, had recommended that surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton Hospital in London should be decommissioned, but this was abandoned in 2013 following legal challenges.

An NHS England spokesman said: “We are committed to providing a consistent, safe and high quality service across the country in line with the recommendations of the congenital heart disease review. We are currently looking at the process of commissioning these services. No decisions on this have yet been taken.”