The Press - Charities step into children's heart surgery unit row

Tuesday 25th September 2012. By Richard Catton, Health reporter

THE legal challenge to the NHS’s decision to close this region’s child heart surgery unit should be dropped, according to the chief executives of three UK heart charities.

In a joint statement, the bosses of the Children’s Heart Federation, the Down’s Heart Group and Max Appeal, said action launched by hospitals such as Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) was “extremely disappointing” and that it could delay “vital improvements to children’s heart services”.

LGI is currently considering a high court legal challenge, after the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review decided children’s heart surgery in the region should be moved to Newcastle.

The three charities said they recognised that the logic of the changes meant there would be fewer hospitals offering surgery, but said it was equally important that long-term cardiology care was provided through outpatient clinics closer to a patient’s home thereby minimising travel for many families.

They said: “We understand the loyalty felt by parents to individual centres and the staff who care for their children, but improving the quality of the service nationally must come first.

“We would remind everyone that there is widespread support from both parents and clinicians for the standards.

“We have therefore been saddened to see units attempting to resist change in an approach that some may view as misplaced localism.

“We urge everyone concerned with the care of children with heart conditions, whether it be clinician, manager, parent or politician, to pull together so that implementation can take place in a planned and timely manner.”

LGI declined to comment when contacted by The Press.


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