Royal Brompton Hospital may lose its children’s heart surgery unit as part of a national review, which is considering reducing the number of centres undertaking children’s heart surgery in London. This would have a detrimental impact on other children’s services at the hospital, including respiratory care. The hospital’s world-leading respiratory research programme will also be negatively affected by such a move. For example, there are significant implications for the current cystic fibrosis gene therapy trial, which recently received a £3.1m grant, because 50% of participants are patients at the hospital.
Removing children’s heart surgery would mean Royal Brompton’s paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) would have to close. Anaesthesia could not be offered in its present form because it would not be feasible to keep an on-site team of anaesthetists. Therefore, no child could be anaesthetised or sedated on site, meaning some of the more complex work undertaken by our expert respiratory teams would have to be done elsewhere.
A panel looked into this issue (Pollitt panel) and concluded that while non-specialist treatments could still be delivered without a PICU and anaesthetic teams, Royal Brompton’s current specialist children’s respiratory services could not continue in their present form without intensive care and anaesthesia.
The Pollitt panel put forward a number of suggestions as to how services in London might be reorganised to cope with the lack of intensive care at Royal Brompton, but no work has yet been done to test if their ideas would work in practice.
Read our press release about the Pollitt panel’s report
Read UK and international comments on our respiratory services and research