Thursday 30 June 2011
For children's heart surgery in England to stay safe and sustainable, the service must continue at Royal Brompton. That is the view of hundreds of people asked about paediatric cardiac surgery at the London hospital, with many praising care they have received at the children’s unit. The overwhelming support for Royal Brompton revealed in survey results published today, comes as a national consultation on the future of children’s heart surgery draws to a close (July 1).
Fears about the devastating knock-on effects on other parts of Royal Brompton, if children’s heart surgery is discontinued are also highlighted in the survey. Nearly 300 parents, patients, carers and NHS staff took part, answering questions about the national review and plans to end the service at Royal Brompton. Highlights from respondents, none of whom work at the specialist heart and lung hospital, include:
- More than 99 per cent agree that for children's heart surgery in England to stay safe and sustainable, Royal Brompton should carry on undertaking children's heart surgery
- More than 98 per cent are 'extremely worried' or 'worried' about the risk to the cystic fibrosis unit. Royal Brompton hosts the largest service for children with cystic fibrosis in the country and helps more patients than anywhere else in Europe
- A total of 99 per cent of people agree it is important to have child and adult heart services under one roof rather than ask patients to change hospitals at 16
- A total of 96 per cent say it is 'very important' or 'important' to have the type of specialist care at local hospitals that Royal Brompton's 300 heart 'outreach' clinics provide in the South East
- More than 91 per cent do not agree with spending money on creating new bed spaces for children at other hospitals in London when well-performing services already exist at Royal Brompton
- More than 98 per cent describe the care they, or their relative, received at Royal Brompton’s children’s unit as 'excellent' or 'very good'
Commenting on Royal Brompton’s strong performance, one relative said: “Closing down a highly successful unit when the capital is struggling to cope with patients seems unwise, unsafe and unsustainable.”
Another parent added: “For all who attend or visit the children’s wards it is clear that it is a place of excellence…you feel this as soon as you walk in the door and it is an example of what all hospitals should be like…Children deserve the best and the children’s heart surgery services at Royal Brompton are the best.”
The parent of a two-year-old with cystic fibrosis, said: “The CF services at Royal Brompton have been vital to us so far and for giving us the hope that care and treatment can prolong her life as long as possible. The loss of this excellent service would be devastating...this closure must be resisted at all costs.”
Royal Brompton’s cradle to old age heart service is also praised by families, with people strongly backing 300 local outreach clinics, run with hospitals across the South East to ensure children with complex heart conditions are seen closer to home.
One parent commented: “It is vital for our family to know that our son will continue under the same care that he has had so far. Our ability to use the outreach clinic has also made it easier for us to ensure our son has the right clinical supervision for his next surgery…and for the rest of his life.”
The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) released recommendations in February, including proposals to discontinue children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton. This was despite a report which rated the hospital highly in a national assessment of all children’s heart surgery centres in England and an analysis which showed that Royal Brompton undertook the necessary number of procedures, and had the required number of surgeons, to ensure a high quality service was maintained.
More than 42,000 people have signed a petition urging the Prime Minister to intervene in the proposed closure of Royal Brompton’s children’s heart services. Leading charities including Asthma UK and the CF Trust have also urged NHS chiefs to consider the knock-on effects.
Dr Gillian Halley, paediatric intensive care consultant at Royal Brompton said: “We know we have a first class service – you only have to look at our exemplary outcomes and our rating among the top children’s heart surgery centres in the country. But the real evidence of this comes from our patients, their parents, relatives and the other NHS teams we work with and they have spoken out with a unanimous voice to keep children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton.
“These recommendations are fundamentally flawed and we hope the strong views of all those who have commented on the consultation are heard before we lose a successful, safe and well-loved children’s heart surgery unit.”
Notes to editors:
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust is a national and international specialist heart and lung centre based in Chelsea, London and Harefield, Middlesex. The Trust helps patients from all age groups who have heart and lung problems and is the country's largest centre for the treatment of adult congenital heart disease.
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation carried out the online survey on the trust website between Monday 12 June and Friday 24 June. Responses were collected from 295 people, including 228 non-trust staff, who described themselves as:
Parent / carer
Relative of a patient
NHS staff member
(not Royal Brompton or Harefield)
For further information, please contact:
Head of Media Relations
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
Tel: 020 7351 8672 (Brompton), Tel: 01895 828 877 (Harefield)
Mobile: 07866 536 345