STRUCTURE: Young patients who have been battling heart and lung conditions have come together to oppose plans to end children’s heart surgery at a hospital.
Teenagers who have been going to London’s Royal Brompton Hospital since birth were among those who spoke out about how they fear their future care and treatment will be threatened as part of a national review of paediatric cardiac surgery.
They attended the public consultation meeting at the Emirates Stadium with their families to discuss the Safe and Sustainable review, a spokeswoman for Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust said.
The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts announced its proposals to discontinue children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton as part of a number of recommendations it made last month.
The spokeswoman said this is despite a report which put the hospital joint fourth out of 10 in a national assessment of all children’s heart surgery centres in England.
Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust has issued legal proceedings against the JCPCT, applying for judicial review and challenging the legality of the consultation.
Catherine Quinn, whose four-year-old son Daniel has had more than 10 heart operations at Royal Brompton, voiced the value of the service to him.
She said: “These proposals mean my son will have to move now, and again when he reaches the age for an adult service.
“But at Royal Brompton he gets continuity of care whatever his age.”
Geoff Baldwin said his son was a day old when he first received heart surgery at Royal Brompton.
He said: “The numbers do not stack up, when you look at the volume of cases which the other London hospitals will have to take on if Royal Brompton stops doing heart surgery.
“Royal Brompton already takes referrals from across England so the case load is only going to go up.”
Nicole Shipley described how her son Greg regularly visits the hospital’s electrophysiology centre to help monitor his heart condition.
She said: “I am worried about the knock-on effects from the loss of children’s heart surgery, such as the unit where my son is seen.
“Your local hospital cannot provide this kind of expert care and if it closes at Royal Brompton there is no substitute.”
Dr Gillian Halley, paediatric intensive care consultant at the hospital, said: “If children’s heart surgery goes from Royal Brompton, the whole of our paediatric care unit faces closure - anyone who says differently is not living in the real world.
“The recommendations pose a risk to young heart patients, 300 plus children with cystic fibrosis and hundreds more who come into our intensive care unit.
“Has there been a thorough evaluation of the impact on all these patients?”
Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust is a national and international specialist heart and lung centre based in Chelsea, west London and Harefield, Middlesex.
The Trust, which treats patients from all age groups with heart and lung problems, is the country’s largest centre for the treatment of adult congenital heart disease.
7 May 2011