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Statement on progress of paediatric cardiac surgery review

27 September 2011

The final decision of the safe & sustainable review of paediatric cardiac surgery is nearly here and today (Sept 27 2011) sees a judicial review hearing called by the Royal Brompton Hospital.

 Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Children with heart conditions represent one of the most vulnerable and difficult to treat patient groups the NHS sees. It is absolutely vital that the surgical services we provide are of the highest quality. Paediatric cardiac surgery in the UK has developed from pioneering centres each pushing the boundaries of what can be done and saving many lives as a result. We know the best results can only be achieved by surgeons and units treating a lot of patients and we also know that patients benefit from units with enough surgeons to give a round the clock service.

 “This review has given us an unprecedented opportunity to organise surgery in a way that we know delivers the most comprehensive and stable service and that does mean fewer units each with at least four surgeons. The profession has been calling for this for years and the Department of Health, alongside politicians of all sides, have played a part in making this decision. There can be no doubt that this change means unfortunately asking some families to travel further for care, but it is a change that puts the UK in the best possible position to further develop this surgery in a safe and responsible manner. It will certainly be a bitter blow to highly performing units who will need to transfer surgeons but this should not stop the course we have taken.”