Landmark decision in treatment for children with congenital heart disease
Networks of care and fewer larger surgical centres will save lives
Children with congenital heart disease will benefit from consistent high quality standards of treatment following a decision today by the NHS to create seven congenital heart networks across England. The networks will expand ongoing care services so that they are closer to home and focus specialist heart surgery by investing in seven larger centres of surgical expertise.
The decision follows the comprehensive Safe and Sustainable clinically-led review of services and one of the largest consultations in NHS history. Under changes to be implemented in 2014 the NHS will:
· develop new networks of care to make sure services for children are more joined up
and meet new national quality standards;
· grow the majority of the highest ranking surgical centres in the country;
· expand outreach services so children can receive their ongoing care, including
check-ups and appointments, closer to home; and
· increase the number of children’s specialist cardiac nurses and paediatricians with
expertise in cardiology so that all children, no matter where they live, have access to consistent and high quality expert care.
Seven children’s congenital heart networks will be established across England and Wales: the North; North West and North Wales; the Midlands; South Central; the South West and South Wales; with two networks serving London, East Anglia and the South East. Before reaching their decision, the Joint Committee considered 12 viable options, including several options with surgical centres in Leeds, Southampton, Leicester and three centres in London.
Announcing today’s decision Sir Neil McKay CB, Chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said:
“This is a landmark decision that clinicians and patients have long called for which will enable the NHS to improve care for children with congenital heart disease. The needs of children, not the vested interests of hospitals, have been at the heart of this review. We only took the decision today after undergoing a robust, fair and transparent process which has already withstood the scrutiny of the highest courts in the land. Before making our decision, we carefully considered the responses to public consultation and all the available evidence and advice."
The decision was welcomed by Royal Colleges, professional associations and patient groups including the UK’s largest children’s heart charity, the Children’s Heart Federation. Chief Executive Anne Keatley-Clarke said families had demanded changes to the system for many years.
Following today’s decision the NHS will work with staff and families to develop detailed plans to implement these changes and ensure that congenital heart networks across England are operational in 2014. Change will be managed by regional Network Boards overseen by NHS Commissioners who will be advised by the national Implementation Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Deirdre Kelly. The NHS will be inviting parents to get involved in the development of the congenital heart networks to ensure their needs are met.
For further information please visit: NHS Specialised Services website.