Families in South Holland and Lincolnshire who hold medical staff at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital dear to their hearts are still reeling from the upheaval threatened by NHS England.
Nearly four weeks, the non-governmental body in overall charge of health care nationally decided that Glenfield’s congenital heart disease (CHD) services were not only below standard, but “extremely unlikely” to be able to meet new standards set by NHS England after one of the darkest days in its history.
The overhaul of children’s heart services across hospitals in England came after the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) scandal where concerns over high infant mortality rates between 1984 and 1995 led to the uncovering of 29 deaths and four cases of brain damage, out of 53 operations examined.
But how the 2001 Kennedy Report on Bristol Royal Infirmary has led to the widely-praised CHD services at Glenfield Hospital being at risk of “decommissioning” 15 years later is a mystery to parents like Dan and Rebekah Taylor of Holbeach.
Dan, whose four-year-old son Oliver had surgery at Glenfield exactly six weeks ago, said: “Both myself and my wife couldn’t have asked for a better service.
“Everything from the word go, such as finding the hole in Oliver’s heart and the growth of muscle that was stopping the flow of blood to his lungs, was amazing.
Both myself and my wife couldn’t have asked for a better service (from Glenfield Hospital) and everything from the word go, such as finding the hole in Oliver’s heart and the growth of muscle that was stopping the flow of blood to his lungs, was amazingDan Taylor of Holbeach
“We can’t believe that after everything that has gone on, Glenfield’s heart surgery provision is going to close.
“It’s shocking and it shouldn’t be happening.”
Like the Taylors, Christer and Francesca Larsson of Spalding are both committed to a campaign called ‘Save the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at the Glenfield Hospital’ where their daughter Sofia spent three months for treatment on four congenital heart defects in 2010.
Francesca said: “If NHS England gets its way and surgery stops at Glenfield, there is real concern about the impact on the number of children’s intensive care beds of which there is already a national shortage.
“It’s vital that our MPs start standing up for the people they represent and the quality services we should have.”
Almost 22,000 people have signed a petition asking Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to save children’s heart services at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.
The petition is in direct oppostition to the contents of a letter to John Alder, chief executive of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust from NHS England at the end of June.
In his letter, Will Huxter of NHS England’s specialised commissiong team said: “We consider that your organisation does not meet all the commissioning standards for congenital heart disease services and is unlikely to be able to do so.”
But in reply, Mr Alder said: “I will not sit by whilst NHS England destroys a fabulous service and we will use all the means at our disposal to reverse this intention.”
Meanwhile, Coun Chris Brewis, Lincolnshire County Council member for Sutton Elloe and part of Lincolnshire’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “The huge efforts of many people, especially the hard work of committee chairman Coun Christine Talbot, to keep the excellent congenital heart services at Glenfield resulted in changed standards and targets.
“To change those at virtually zero notice is just ‘not on’ and were services at Glenfield Services to cease, it would mean patients either travelling to Birmingham. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, London or Southampton.
“Birmingham Children’s Hospital has no facilities for parents of children to stay at, unlike Glenfield has at present, and we have already written to NHS England to indicate that we may, if necessary, seek to declare this a ‘substantial variation’, which would require a further detailed consultation.
“We obviously hope to avoid that and continue to give these excellent services at Glenfield time to conform to all the new standards, for which time was already being allowed.”