11 July 2012
MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, today voiced his support for Royal Brompton Hospital describing last week’s decision to decommission children’s cardiac surgery as “extraordinary”. Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, added that: “… the Royal Brompton is one of only two hospitals in the country where four surgeons already handle well over 500 congenital cardiac cases a year, meeting, therefore, the standards expected by professionals and the review panel’s criteria.”
In a private members’ debate with Minister of State for Health, Simon Burns, regarding closure of hospital services in west London, Mr Slaughter raised the issue of last week’s decision by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) to decommission children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton Hospital.
The JCPCT’s decision, which came as part of a national review of paediatric heart services in England, will have serious and negative knock-on impacts on the hospital as paediatric anaesthesia and intensive care services will also be de-commissioned. This will damage specialist care for respiratory patients who need the back up of both these services.
Mr Slaughter said the JCPCT “has taken the extraordinary step of recommending the closure of the children’s cardiac unit at the Royal Brompton hospital, despite knowing that there were no risks attendant on keeping it open. On the contrary, it is a world-class unit with world-class doctors and surgeons. Moreover, the JCPCT also took that step in the knowledge that a range of other world-class services at the Royal Brompton hospital – the respiratory service, the cystic fibrosis service and the neuromuscular services – are also at risk. The Royal Brompton hospital is not in my constituency, but it is used by my constituents and indeed I substantially used it myself when I was severely asthmatic in younger life. It is unthinkable that it should be put at risk by this decision to recommend the closure of services.”
His comments were fully supported by Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, who also said that the hospital serves many of his constituents, despite the hospital being outside his constituency:
“I have received many e-mails and other correspondence imploring me to fight the decision to close the specialist children’s heart surgery unit at the hospital …. I have great sympathy with the concerns that some of my constituents have highlighted. They are particularly worried that the review of the Royal Brompton has failed to consider what a difference having child and adult cardiac services in the same centre makes to the quality of care.
“My constituents will point out that the Royal Brompton is one of only two hospitals in the country where four surgeons already handle well over 500 congenital cardiac cases a year, meeting, therefore, the standards expected by professionals and the review panel’s criteria. It is the only centre in the country to have undertaken more than 1,000 interventions in a year for such diseases, and the service has consistently been rated as excellent by the Care Quality Commission, the review team and, of course, Ministers. The campaigners fear that the decision to close children’s heart services will threaten the viability of the entire trust in the Royal Brompton area. The hospital hosts the country’s largest service for children with cystic fibrosis, which requires intensive paediatric care, and also anaesthesia teams to support the respiratory team with some of the most complex cases.”
He finished by expressing hope that “the Minister will continue to listen to some of the concerns”.
Mr John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who co-sponsored an Early Day Motion
on the negative repercussions of the closure of Royal Brompton’s PICU, also expressed agreement with Mr Field’s and Mr Slaughter’s sentiments.