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‘Scandalous’ decision to end children’s services was based on out-of-date information

19th September 2012
‘Scandalous’ decision to end children’s services was based on out-of-date information

MPs heard today that the controversial decision to end children’s heart surgery at the world-renowned Royal Brompton Hospital was based on old figures which failed to reveal the clear need for the unit’s survival.

In an adjournment debate on Tuesday, 18th September 2012, Gordon Henderson, Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, described the decision taken by a joint committee of primary care trusts as ‘scandalous’ and ‘extraordinary’.

Mr Henderson explained that the decision was based on projections from the 2006 based National Population Predictions which have been shown to greatly underestimate population growth. New, more up-to-date figures published since the Safe and Sustainable review of child heart surgery took place show that the rate of population increase – particularly for children – is far greater than previously estimated. In London, the child population is increasing at almost twice the national average. These figures throw doubt on the decision to reduce the number of units offering heart surgery for children from three to two.

In addition, recent data from the UK Central Cardiac Audit Database shows that the number of children needing heart operations is increasing every year, far from the relatively stable numbers factored into the review.

Mr Henderson said: “The review uses out-of-date statistics on both population growth and the number of children needing surgery.

“They decided that the Royal Brompton should close its specialist centre and intensive care unit, despite the fact that the hospital is one of the biggest and best centres in the country.

“Scandalously, the intensive care units and children’s heart units at the other two London centres do not currently have enough beds for Royal Brompton patients, and at least one of them will have to spend large sums of money building new facilities. At a time when the NHS is strapped for cash, this alone is a good reason for reversing the decision to close the Royal Brompton Hospital.”

Calling on new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene and overturn the decision, Mr Henderson described a recent visit he made to Royal Brompton Hospital.

“My visit to the Royal Brompton was inspirational,” he said. “I saw the very best that the NHS has to offer – the best specialist skills and an incredibly caring environment.”

To read the full speech CLICK HERE.

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