Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Anger as child heart operating axed

The Royal Brompton is one of three hospitals which will stop performing heart surgery on children

Managers at a hospital at the centre of a bitter legal row over plans to streamline paediatric heart services said they were baffled at the decision to stop it performing heart surgery on children.

The Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London, is one of three specialist units in England which are to stop performing such procedures. There are 10 nationwide.

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Bob Bell said he was struggling to "understand how this committee could have come to such a decision".

He said: "I will now discuss this decision with the trust's board and governors' council to determine our next steps. One thing is certain - I will not be asking them for the mandate to manage the destruction of a highly valued and respected children's unit."

In November, the hospital won a High Court action against the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT), who carried out the consultation - the first time one NHS organisation had taken legal action against another.

But the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal in April and the JCPCT has now said units at the Royal Brompton, Leeds General Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital in Leicester are to stop providing the surgery.

However, this will not happen immediately as plans to implement the new streamlined service are still being developed. The move comes after an NHS review which concluded that expertise was spread too thinly in the 10 sites and should be concentrated in fewer hospitals.

Mike Collier, chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "This result flies in the face of logical health care planning and plain common sense. We genuinely believe that the decision will not deliver the stated aims of the Safe and Sustainable Paediatric Cardiac Services review.

"This decision seems almost perverse in light of the information which became available during the course of the consultation process. We are surprised that the very clear wishes of over 600,000 people from this region appear to have been disregarded.

"On geography and population density alone the case for Leeds remains as strong as ever. We will now carefully consider, with our supporters, what action to take as a result of this very disappointing decision."

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