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People across the region and country are being urged to support the campaign to save children’s heart surgery at Southampton General Hospital.
From today (Monday), patients past and present, relatives, staff and members of the public can submit their views about the future of the service in the city through the NHS safe and sustainable public consultation.
A long-running national review of paediatric cardiac surgery is recommending that fewer, larger centres should be created in England, with a decision last week to put forward four options on where these should be developed.
Despite being rated by experts, led by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, as the second-highest performing of 11 centres in England that provide this service, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is included in only one of the options.
“An independent review has rated Southampton as providing the highest quality of service outside London and we are regularly recognised both nationally and internationally for our surgical outcomes," said Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at SUHT.
"We are all obviously extremely disappointed to have only a one in four chance of retaining this exemplary service for patients from across the UK.
"It is vital that every single person who wants to keep such a world-class facility providing the highest quality care to severely ill children comes forward and submits their views during the public consultation.”
There are currently more than 10,000 patients with congenital heart disease either directly under review in Southampton or seen in partnership with the south of England referring network and, during 2010, Southampton performed 404 congenital heart surgery procedures.
A new permanent partnership with the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford now sees all major children’s heart procedures referred to Southampton, while life-long care for those patients remains in Oxford – meeting the principles of providing expert surgical care in larger centres and preventing constant travel for follow-up treatment.
Dr Marsh added:
“The Southampton-Oxford clinical relationship puts us ahead of the game in combining skills and teams to create a comprehensive and high quality service for children with heart disease in the south of England and ensures families in all areas have access to excellent local care.”
For information and to have a say on the consultation, which runs for four months, visit the Review of Children’s Congenital Cardiac Services section on www.specialisedservices.nhs.uk/safeandsustainable