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Reaction after children's heart unit decision

There has been a dramatic turnaround in the decision over where children's heart services should be based.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suspended a review, which threatened to close three children's heart surgery units.

It had been previously announced that Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, which takes in patients from across the north of England and Scotland, would become a centre of excellence.

Watch Gregg Easteal's report here:

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Response from Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

"We would imagine that everyone who wants to see improvements in the care for children would be frustrated at another delay.

"We do recognise that national service change on this scale is a complex undertaking and we offer our full support to work with NHS England and other stakeholders going forward to ensure the benefits of whatever long overdue changes to children's heart services are necessary to provide the best possible service children and their families."

– Professor Terence Stephenson, chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

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"The need for reconfiguration has never been more urgent"

The president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Hilary Cass, says the need for reconfiguration has never been more urgent - and as today's IRP report states and the Health Secretary reiterated, the status quo is not an option.

"It is encouraging that NHS England has been tasked with devising a plan to take forward the review quickly. Decisions around complex issues such as reconfiguration will always involve some difficult judgment calls and hence be open to challenge, however robust the process.

"It's important to identify and acknowledge where there have been shortfalls, but we cannot let the problems with this particular process stall further what is crucial for ensuring safe and sustainable health services for children."

– Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
National

Hunt: Clinical case for change remains

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was clear the clinical case for changes to how children's heart surgery units are run remains, despite today's suspension of plans to close three units.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said the independent review he instigated, following complaints from units where closure was recommended, still stressed the "case for change."

Read: Plans to close children's heart surgery units suspended

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National

NHS England welcomes children's heart unit decision

NHS England welcomed Jeremy Hunt's decision to suspend planned closures of three children's heart surgery units and promised to lead plans to rethink how care can be improved.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England said:

We welcome the review and NHS England will now study its recommendations in full to learn from them. We will institute a new process that recognises the very strong case for redesigning services to meet the demands of the future whilst addressing the legitimate concerns in our local communities.

Calendar

NHS England intend new heart unit plans to be in place within 12 months

It is essential that all those involved can learn lessons from the Safe and Sustainable Review and work purposefully and quickly together to find a new way forward in the shortest possible timescale. If we are not able to make progress swiftly, children will be the losers.

As of April, NHS England is the new national commissioner of these services so it is our responsibility to lead the process on behalf of children and their families.

We want to build consensus on the way forward, working with all those affected.

So we will take the time to listen before coming up with a new proposition, working with patients, clinicians and the providers of services. We intend to announce a new way forward in the autumn, with plans for implementation within 12 months.

– Dr Jacqueline Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children and Young People for NHS England
Calendar

NHS England to rethink children's heart surgery

NHS England has promised to lead a rethink of plans to improve children's heart surgery in England following publication of an independent report on the Safe and Sustainable Review.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England said:

We welcome the review and NHS England will now study its recommendations in full to learn from them. We will institute a new process that recognises the very strong case for redesigning services to meet the demands of the future whilst addressing the legitimate concerns in our local communities.

– Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England

The Safe and Sustainable Review assessed nationally, for the first time, the quality of care given to children born with a serious heart condition. An extensive consultation exercise attracted some 75,000 responses.

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Health Secretary: The IRP "strongly agrees with case for change"

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says local health scrutiny committees in the areas affected by the closures expressed concerns about the review process and the matter was referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

"(The IRP) strongly agrees with the case for change. However, the report also concludes that the outcome of the Safe and Sustainable Review was based on a flawed analysis of the impact of incomplete proposals and leaves too may questions about sustainability and implementation.

"This is clearly a serious criticism of the safe and sustainable process.

"I therefore accept their recommendation that the proposals cannot go ahead in their current form and am suspending the review today."

– Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
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