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Patients oppose plans to end children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton

Press Release

Saturday 7 May 2011


Young heart and lung patients from around the country, described how the loss of children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton Hospital, threatens their future care and treatment, at a public consultation meeting in London today (Sat May 7). 


Teenagers coming to Royal Brompton since birth, were among those who spoke about the devastating consequences of recommendations to end children’s heart surgery at the hospital, as part of a national review of paediatric cardiac surgery. Families attending the consultation at the Emirates Stadium, accused those behind the ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review of failing to consider the irreversible damage on Royal Brompton’s cardiac and respiratory patients.


One mother voiced the value of the children’s and adult’s heart service. Catherine Quinn’s four-year-old son Daniel has had more than ten heart operations at Royal Brompton. She said: “These proposals mean my son will have to move now and again when he reaches the age for an adult service. But at Royal Brompton he gets continuity of care whatever his age.”


Geoff Baldwin’s son was a day old when he came into Royal Brompton for heart surgery. He said: “The numbers do not stack up, when you look at the volume of cases which the other London hospitals will have to take on if Royal Brompton stops doing heart surgery. Royal Brompton already takes referrals from across England so the case load is only going to go up.”   


Nicole Shipley’s son Greg comes to Royal Brompton for regular visits to the electrophysiology centre, one of the largest in the UK, to help monitor his heart condition. She said: “I am worried about the major knock-on effects from the loss of children’s heart surgery, such as the unit where my son is seen. Your local hospital cannot provide this kind of expert care and if it closes at Royal Brompton there is no substitute.”


Stopping children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton also threatens the hospital’s cystic fibrosis unit. Jo Osmond, director of clinical care, at The Cystic Fibrosis Trust said in a letter to the Times newspaper; “…the removal of paediatric cardiac surgery from Royal Brompton Hospital will indeed have grievous consequences for children with cystic fibrosis. But the effects will not be confined to children with this serious illness. It is impossible to safely look after sick children with either heart or lung disease without on-site access to paediatric anaesthesia and paediatric intensive care, neither of which are viable at Royal Brompton without paediatric cardiac surgery.”


The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) released its recommendations last month, which include proposals to discontinue children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton. This is despite a report which put the hospital joint fourth out of ten in a national assessment of all children’s heart surgery centres in England. Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust has issued legal proceedings against the JCPCT, applying for judicial review, challenging the legality of the consultation.


Dr Gillian Halley, paediatric intensive care consultant at Royal Brompton said: “If children’s heart surgery goes from Royal Brompton, the whole of our paediatric care unit faces closure - anyone who says differently is not living in the real world. The recommendations pose a risk to young heart patients, 300 plus children with cystic fibrosis and hundreds more who come into our intensive care unit. Has there been a thorough evaluation of the impact on all these patients?”




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.



For further information, please contact:

Jessica Mangold,

Head of Media Relations

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 020 7351 8672 (Brompton), Tel: 01895 828 877 (Harefield)

Mobile: 07866 536 345

Email: J.Mangold@rbht.nhs.uk



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