Children’s heart treatment service axed

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A hospital which performs heart surgery on children from Northamptonshire has seen its service axed.

The Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, along with the the Royal Brompton in Chelsea and Leeds General Infirmary, will not stop providing surgery immediately as plans to implement the new streamlined service are still being developed.

The move comes after an NHS review which concluded that expertise was spread too thinly in sites across the country and should be concentrated in fewer hospitals.

It is understood that implementation of the streamlined services is expected to take place throughout 2013. Once they stop providing surgery the units will still see patients for diagnosis, monitoring and non-surgical treatment.

The institutions which will now house the specialist surgery centres are: Evelina Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, Great Ormond Street, both in London, Southampton General Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

The Children’s Heart Federation welcomed the decision. Chief executive Anne Keatley-Clarke said: “The delays to planned improvements in children’s heart services caused a great deal of uncertainty for parents and professionals, so we are pleased for them that this has come to an end.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “This announcement will allow the NHS to get on with making long-overdue and necessary changes. We have had eleven years of debate on this issue. Now is the time to act and get children’s care to highest standard possible.”