Any further delays to improvements in children’s heart services ‘extremely worrying’

For immediate release

With the outcome tomorrow of the Appeal against the Judicial Review regarding Safe and Sustainable and the Royal Brompton Hospital, the Children’s Heart Federation, the UK’s leading Children’s Heart Charity, has voiced its concerns about the delays in the implementation of the higher standards of paediatric cardiac care recommended in the Safe and Sustainable Review.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, Chief Executive of CHF commented, “The delays in implementing the improvements planned to children’s heart services are extremely worrying and are causing a great deal of uncertainty and distress for parents across the country”.

The Safe and Sustainable review recommended a new set of national quality standards to ensure the highest quality of care. It included the requirement for each surgical unit to have 4 surgeons conducting between 400 and 500 operations per year, thereby ensuring the highest quality care of children needing heart surgery, with around the clock care provided.

The Children’s Heart Federation has joined with the medical professional associations calling for a decision to be reached urgently.

Ms Keatley-Clarke stated, “What we have been calling for, for a number of years now, has been a common sense approach.This is simply about wanting experienced surgeons to be operating on our children at top quality units and the Safe and Sustainable Review promises to finally deliver this”.

The ongoing uncertainty about the outcome of the Safe and Sustainable Review has meant that units have been unwilling and unable to make the necessary level of investment needed to improve their services for children. “Parents, charities and professionals involved all agree that the changes planned are necessary to improve the quality of care and outcomes for children.

It’s essential we don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the children with congenital heart problems which matter most in this process and who really deserve this process to be carried out as quickly as possible”.


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Notes to editors:

  1. The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) is the UK’s leading children’s heart charity and an umbrella organisation for 21 member groups which support heart children and their families. CHF supports families through its information service, small grants programme, peer support events and provision of equipment. The charity also lobbies for changes to the health, social care and education systems for the benefit of heart families (
  2. The Safe and Sustainable review of children’s congenital heart services in England began in 2008 and recommended a new set of national quality standards. An expert independent panel carried out an assessment of the quality of existing centres. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) conducted a national consultation on proposed options for reconfiguring services. More information about Safe and Sustainable is available at
  3. We can arrange interviews with parents of heart children and Anne Keatley-Clarke, Chief Executive of Children’s Heart Federation.

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