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Public consultation launched on congenital heart disease services

Glenfield Hospital Photo: PA

A public consultation into the future for congenital heart disease services in England launches today.

NHS England says the consultation will consider how to 'place new standards for hospitals providing congenital heart disease services in England.'

Proposals to end heart surgery at Leicester's Glenfield Children's Heart Centre have proved highly controversial in the region.

The consultation runs for 16 weeks from Thursday 9 February to Monday 5 June 2017.

It aims to gather as many views as possible from patients, families and clinical experts. The consultation will include:

  • Meetings around the country
  • Online seminars
  • An online survey.
Glenfield campaign Credit: PA

In 2015, a new set of quality standards were published for all hospitals which provide congenital heart disease. The standards set out the following:

  • The need for surgeons to do a minimum of 125 cases per year, the equivalent of three per week.
  • The need for a minimum of three surgeons in the team to cover the workload 24 hours a day, rising to four surgeons per team by April 2021.
  • Specialist children’s cardiac services must also only be delivered where there are also a wider range of other paediatric specialities present on the same hospital site.

It’s our job to organise services so that every adult and child with congenital heart disease in this country gets not just safe or good care, but excellent care. We’ve worked hard with patients and clinical professionals to develop a set of standards to achieve this, and heard clearly throughout this process that this would only be worth something for patients if acted upon.

NHS England has set out how these standards can be put into practice. No final decisions have been made, and whether or not they are carried out in the way we’ve suggested, is subject to the outcome of public consultation, so we encourage everyone with an interest to get involved.

– Professor Huon Gray, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, NHS England

A petition to save services at the Children's Heart Unit in Leicester's Glenfield Hospital will be handed in to Downing Street later today.

130,000 people either signed the online government petition, or put their names on a paper copy.