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Response to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel report on children's heart surgery

12 Jun 2013

In response to the publication of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel report on children’s heart surgery and government response, Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

‘We are extremely disappointed that the reform plans aimed at providing the best possible heart surgery for very sick children will be suspended. Adding to what has already been a long and exhaustive process, this will inevitably lead to a further period of uncertainty and delay for patients and all those involved in delivering this care.

The RCS has been calling for changes to surgical services for children with complex heart conditions for many years. As the body which advances standards in surgery, we want to see plans put in place which will create a sustainable model for excellent care in the future, and which would improve both service delivery but also training of surgeons in a highly complex field.

There is a wealth of evidence that concentrating specialist surgical services into fewer, larger centres of excellence can improve outcomes and make services more sustainable. When teams are seeing a greater number of patients, they become better at dealing with complex cases, expertise and equipment is pooled and training and research is improved.

We understand that there were flaws in the process; however, no process will ever satisfy everyone, and difficult decisions will need to be made by politicians where responsibility ultimately rests. We are pleased that all political parties agree that maintaining the status quo in regard to providing children’s congenital heart services is not an option.

We urge NHS England to act swiftly and decisively. Continued foot dragging will only delay the much needed reform that will ensure children will get the best treatment available.’

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the RCS press office on:

  • 020 7869 6047/ 6052
  • Out-of hours: 07966 486 832
  • 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

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