CHF Seeks Action to Support Children's Heart Services Across the Country Following Bristol Inquest

The UK’s leading children’s heart charity says that swift action is needed to support children’s heart services throughout the country.

The Children’s Heart Federation’s concerns follow an inquest which ruled there were “missed opportunities” in care of four year old Sean Turner who died after heart surgery at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

The charity is warning that problems with paediatric congenital heart services have resulted in many families raising questions about treatment from children’s heart units across the country.

The charity says 15 years of indecision about much needed changes to children’s heart surgical services across England has caused the quality of the service to decline.

Changes to improve children’s heart services were originally proposed in 2001 in a report from Sir Ian Kennedy, and subsequent Government reviews including the most recent five-year review, ‘Safe and Sustainable’ which was suspended last year. NHS England have now been tasked with undertaking another review into England’s children’s heart services, launched last summer.

The charity are aware of other families pursuing legal action against Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and is concerned with a delay in a report being published from an independent review into paediatric heart services at Leeds General Infirmary.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, Chief Executive of CHF says:

“We are saddened but not surprised by today’s comments about poor care at Bristol from the inquest into Sean Turner’s death. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, and we want to raise concerns about other families suffering in the same way.

“We are concerned that staff in children’s heart units across the nation are struggling to maintain a good service during the prolonged uncertainty surrounding the future of England’s congenital cardiac services. For nearly 15 years, these services have been under review, and we now face yet another year without a decision whilst NHS England’s New Congenital Heart review is conducted.

“This indecision has not only impacted on the infrastructure, staffing levels and skill mix, but has created a worrying culture of infighting within the service. Far from achieving changes to create an excellent national service as proposed by the Kennedy Review in 2001, children’s heart services are being left to crumble.

“It is essential that there is full openness and transparency about reviewing children’s heart services across the country and urge NHS England to publish the findings of the long-awaited independent review into paediatric heart services at Leeds General Infirmary.

“Children’s heart units must not be left to struggle for another year. We call on the NHS and to Government to face up to current problems and ensure that the existing service is properly resourced, ensuring children with heart conditions can be treated in a timely and safe manner.

Ends 

Contact for general media enquiries:

Rohini Simbodyal, Policy and Communications manager at Children’s Heart Federation telephone: 0207 442 0630/ 07543 244 266 or email: rohinis@chfed.org.uk

Notes for 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 (see www.chfed.org.uk).