Children's Surgery Undermined By Competition Among Hospitals And Lack Of Training
(Embargoed until 16:00 on Thursday 26th July 2007)
The Children's Surgical Forum has launched its report 'Surgery for Children: Delivering A First Class Service' at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The report states there are major challenges facing surgical care for children and sets out key recommendations for improvement in each surgical specialty. The report provides a definitive guide on standards for those responsible for delivering surgical care to children together with information on safe models of care and service development.The report's recommendations include:
- Children must be treated by appropriately trained professionals in an environment suitable for their needs.
- Children's surgical services should be protected from those health policy reforms which involve competition among Trusts.
- Routine surgery should be available locally and clinical networks will need to be further established to achieve this. Commissioners will play an important role.
- Cohesive workforce planning is required to ensure that an appropriate number of surgeons are trained to deliver routine paediatric surgery across all specialties.
- Complex surgery should be centralised to provide the best outcomes.
- Workforce expansion is required in specialist paediatric surgery. In England there are currently only 104 consultant paediatric surgeons which is significantly below the estimate requirement of 256 by 2010.
- All surgeons operating on children should undergo basic paediatric life support training. Specialist paediatric surgeons in training should undertake an advanced paediatric life support course.
- College appointed ‘Lead Clinicians’ will play an important role in the clinical governance structure of each hospital providing children's surgery.
Launching the report at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons Council member and Chair of The Children's Surgical Forum David Jones FRCS, said:
"In the seven years since the Forum published its first report Children’s Surgery: a First Class Service, surgery for children has changed beyond recognition. Techniques have improved and more can be done for sick children, but fewer hospitals are able to provide these services. We have reached a point where there are now major challenges facing surgical care for children.
The Children's Surgical Forum considers that while routine surgery should be available locally, there is a need to centralise specialist services to achieve the best outcomes. Clinical networks must be further developed to enable children to obtain the specialist care they need in a dedicated centre.
There are many excellent examples of clinical networks in children's surgery. However, current health policy reforms that introduce competition can provide a disincentive for Trusts to collaborate in the interests of the patient. The report recommends that children's surgical services be protected from competition and commissioned separately.
The report contains important messages for clinicians, support staff, service planners, commissioners and policy makers. We hope that our recommendations are implemented in each hospital with the help of lead clinicians for children's surgical services"
Notes to Editors
- The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit the college website.
- The Children's Surgical Forum brings together a range of professionals involved in delivering surgical services to children. It has broad representation from the Medical Royal Colleges, the Surgical Specialist Associations, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Nursing and the RCS Patient Liaison Group. The recommendations are for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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