It has been confirmed this afternoon that children from across the South West, who need heart surgery, will continue to be treated in Bristol. While other units are being axed, Bristol's Peadiatric Cardiac Unit will become just one of a handful of specialist centres across the country.
The review of children's heart services stems back to the Bristol Heart babies scandal of the 80s and 90s where thirty babies died. Following the inquiry into what happened there were calls for changes to be made to the way children';s heart surgery is organised nationally. The argument being larger specialist centres reduce the number of deaths and improve patients outcomes.
This afternoon the review group rubber stamped a recommendation they made over a year ago to retain children's heart services in Bristol. The key factor was it's geographical location. Bristol treats children from Wiltshire, Wales and throughout the South West. If Bristol was closed patients from Cornwall and Devon would have had to travel to Birmingham or London, and the review group said that was simply too far .
Bristol has come a long way since the dark days of the Heart Babies scandal and death rates are now low. The cardiac unit also has the capacity to expand and Bristol's Heart Institute is next door which means continuing care from heart patients from the womb into adulthood. Patients from Dorset will continue to be treated in Southampton.