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Recent announcement over surgical centres

The recent news about surgery for children and adults with congenital heart disease will be, understandably, an obvious concern for many. Discussions about services for congenital heart disease have been conducted for more than a decade and there had been agreement that some reorganisation appeared necessary.  Over the past few years a set of standards have been written with the agreement of the medical profession, the medical professional bodies and patient groups. NHS England, as part of a national commissioning process, have asked hospitals to assess themselves against these standards and whether they will be able to achieve them.

It was always going to be unfortunate if any of the hospitals were unable to achieve the standards, however, if they are unable to demonstrate that they can, it cannot be in the interests of the patients for this surgery to continue. As the patient group representing adults with congenital heart disease, it is difficult and indeed would be wrong to suggest that surgery should be continued if the agreed standards indicate that it should not. 

There is often confusion over what this means.  It means that the surgery, performed on both children and adults by the same surgeons, should not continue, it does not mean that a hospital cannot continue as a cardiology or outpatient centre, which after all is what most patient visits are for.

A hugely important part of this process is that there has been what is termed occasional practice, surgical interventions and cardiology.  Occasional practice is when medical professionals who are not expert in this complicated specialty are caring for patients.  Part of this process is to bring this practice to an end and this is very important.

It is reassuring that none of these changes are going to be immediate and we will be asking for details of the plans for change to ensure it is done with the interests of patients uppermost.

Information and contact details for the current specialist centres can be found here.

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