A little boy who underwent vital surgery at a heart centre that is in danger of closing has been urging people to sign a petition to save it.
Four-year-old Oliver Taylor joined his dad Dan and brother Harvey (15) in Holbeach on Saturday in the fight to save the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC) at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital. They want to call on the Government to overrule a recommendation by NHS England to close the centre.
It comes after an assessment decided the hospital was unable and unlikely in future to meet its new “commissioning standards” for congenital heart disease (CHD) services.
This has been met with outcry from families in South Holland and Lincolnshire who are full of praise for the hospital’s medical staff and are reeling from the announcement.
Oliver received surgery at the centre after a bad cough at the age of two turned out to be a hole in the heart and muscle growth stopping blood flowing to his lungs.
Oliver’s dad Dan said: “We spent about three hours in Holbeach with the petition – an hour at the market and then two hours in the town centre – and collected 240 signatures.
“I was surprised there were a lot of people who did not know that the heart centre could be closing. I had to explain what it was about. I would say about 60 per cent of people had no idea about the news. People were shocked and there was a good response to the petition.
“The boys were fantastic. Oliver is only four but was stopping people and asking them to sign the petition. We hope to go into Spalding within the next few weeks to get more signatures.”
Dan has also been busy raising money for the Heart Link Children’s Charity (East Midlands Children’s Heart Care Association) and has now brought in £2,147 with people still giving donations.
Heart Link was founded in 1981 as a support group for parents and families with children with a heart defect, raising money for research and treatment at Glenfield Hospital. The online petition to review the decision to close the heart unit at Glenfield’s now has around 27,522 signatures.