Have your say on children's heart services
The NHS is reviewing how it delivers congenital heart services to children in England and Wales. This is at the request of national parent groups, NHS clinicians and their professional associations.
The aim of the review is to develop a national service that has:
- Better results in surgical centres with fewer deaths and complications following surgery
- Better, more accessible assessment services and follow up treatment delivered within regional and local networks
- Reduced waiting times and fewer cancelled operations
- Improved communication between parents and all of the services in the network that see their child
- Better training for surgeons and their teams to ensure the service is sustainable for the future
- A trained workforce of experts in the care and treatment of children and young people with congenital heart disease
- Surgical centres at the forefront of modern working practices and new technologies that are leaders in research and development
- A network of specialist centres collaborating in research and clinical development, encouraging the sharing of knowledge across the network
Children's heart surgery is an increasingly complex procedure that demands great technical skill and expertise from surgeons and their teams. The review was requested because there are concerns that some centres are not performing enough surgical procedures to maintain and develop their specialist skills, and because some centres do not have enough surgeons to guarantee a safe 24/7 service around the clock. There are also concerns that the NHS is too reliant on other countries to train the next generation of children's heart surgeons.
There are currently around 30 consultant heart surgeons who operate on children spread across 11 surgical centres in England. A likely outcome of the review is recommendations for a reduction in the number of centres in England that provide children's heart surgery, for specialist surgical expertise to be concentrated in fewer, larger centres and for a national model of care that strengthens the delivery of non-interventional assessment and follow-up care in local hospitals.
What has the Safe & Sustainable review involved?
The Safe and Sustainable review has involved:
- Engaging with partners across the country to understand what works well at the moment and what needs to be changed
- Developing standards - in partnership with the public, NHS staff and their associations - that surgical centres must meet in the future
- Developing a network model of care that strengthens local cardiology services
- The assessment of each of the current surgical centres against the standards by an independent expert panel, chaired by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy
- The consideration of a number of potential configuration options against other criteria including access, travel times and population
- Recommendations on the future shape of children's heart surgery services will be made by a joint committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT), the JCPCT will then hold a formal public consultation and the outcome of the consultation will be considered with a view to the JCPCT making a final decision in 2011
For more information
For more information visit the website for the Safe & Sustainable programme.