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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Child heart surgery to halt at some hospitals

17th February 2011

Child heart surgery is to stop at some major centres under an NHS review.

heart surgery

The review is focusing on 11 units in England and comes amid concerns that expertise is being spread too thinly and could have an impact on patient safety.

The review has four options which involve stopping child heart surgery at either four or five hospitals, though such operations have already been halted at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after a number of deaths there last year.

A final decision is due in the autumn after a period of public consultation, with operations stopping at the affected hospitals by 2013.

Concerns over child heart surgery arose after the Bristol scandal of the 1990s when children died after having unnecessary heart surgery.

At present there are 31 child heart surgeons across England, carrying out 3,600 operations a year.

The changes have the backing of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

In a joint statement they said: “England has the right number of heart surgeons treating rare heart conditions in children, but we know that they are thinly spread over too many units.

“A better service would be provided if this expertise were condensed in fewer units with the critical number of staff to support each other, disseminate new techniques and train the next generation of specialists.”

The Children's Heart Federation, which represents parents, agrees and said parents acknowledged that paediatric cardiac surgery was best delivered on a national basis and supported the concept of larger, but fewer centres of excellence.


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