Children's heart unit decision

A decision is expected over the future of the children's heart unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Live updates


Health Secretary suspends heart unit closures

The future of Children's Heart surgery on Tyneside is in limbo. The Health Secretary has suspended a controversial review, which threatened to close three children's heart surgery units and expand services at The Freeman Hospital.

Jeremy Hunt says the review was based on flawed analysis.

Gregg Easteal reports:

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

"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

NHS England: There is a "compelling case for change"

NHS England clinical director for children and young people, says there is a "compelling case for change".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World At One, Dr Jacqueline Cornish said:

"We will have a plan by the end of July, then we would hope to move to implementation of whatever this plan is going to show us by 12 months' time."

"This is ambitious but I think it shows the gravity with which we take this and our complete ambition to do this in the interests of getting improved children's outcomes, making it safer and making the entire surgical service sustainable.

"We understand this is a highly emotionally-charged issue but what we are attempting to do is outline a national service for children.

"We will take increasingly more soundings, we will listen, we will reflect, we will talk to everybody that is involved in this service from children and parents and frontline workers, all stakeholders - charities particularly important - and politicians, so that we recognise that we will be able to effect this change.

"There is a compelling case for change."

– Dr Jacqueline Cornish, NHS England clinical director for children and young people


Reaction after Health Secretary's announcement

There has been a dramatic turn in the decision over where Children's Heart Servcies should be.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suspended a review which threatened to close three children's heart surgery units - including one in Leeds. He says the review was based on flawed analysis.

It had been previously announced that Newcastle's Freeman Hospital would become a centre of excellence for children's heart services.

Gregg Easteal was live at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital this lunchtime:

  1. National

Heart hospitals buy time as Hunt suspends review

Campaigners demanding that their local children's heart surgery hospitals in England remain open won a partial victory today as the Health Secretary suspended a controversial review.

Jeremy Hunt admitted the initial decision to close units in Leeds, London and Leicester was based on faulty data.

But he said the review would be revisited and that some services would still have to shut.

ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie explains more:

  1. 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.

  1. 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."

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