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Sunday 20th May 2018

Children heart op centres to be closed

26th April 2010

A number of children’s heart surgery centres across England should be closed with operations conducted at fewer specialised centres.


Following an expert review, the NHS National Specialised Commissioning Group is to assess the 11 paediatric heart centres to decide which to keep open.

The review follows the 1990s Bristol heart babies scandal.

That brought the 11 centres and the work of 31 surgeons operating within them under the spotlight after it emerged that children had died unnecessarily following heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1991 and 1995.

Expert opinion has already indicated that fewer, larger centres of excellence would provide better care for children needing heart surgery.

The commissioning group will now decide which centres should be expanded and those that should stop doing paediatric heart surgery.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: “If we don't address this issue we will put some of the most critically ill children at risk and fail in our duty to ensure these NHS services are fit for the future.”

The Patients Association said it was not opposed to reorganisations of specialist services but warned that patients and their families could face long journeys for treatment.

Spokeswoman Katherine Murphy said: “If the NHS is to be a truly comprehensive health service it needs to be mindful of these needs and help families and carers cope with the very real difficulties that can be created.”

Each heart surgery centre would have a minimum of four surgeons while other centres could continue doing non-surgical treatments and diagnostics.


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