Key moment for South Holland families battling to save children’s heart services

Parents, MPs and staff from Glenfield Hospital at 10 Downing Street.
Parents, MPs and staff from Glenfield Hospital at 10 Downing Street.
  • NHS England asks the public about Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital

Families relying on children’s heart disease services at an East Midlands hospital can give their views on keeping it open.

NHS England opened a 16-week public consultation on the future of congenital (present from birth) heart disease (CHD) services at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital on Thursday.

It came just a day after a group of parents handed in a 130,000 name petition calling on the Government to reverse NHS England’s recommendation for CHD services to be moved from Glenfield to Birmingham.

John Adler, Chief Executive of Glenfield Hospital, said: “NHS England has announced that the long-awaited consultation on its proposal to close the heart surgery service at East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre has begun.

“We fundamentally disagree with what NHS England are proposing, not out of (narrow) self-interest but because we fail to see how the closure of a growing, high-performing centre, with excellent results, beloved of its patients and serving a community of some five million people in our region is in any way in the interests of those patients and their families.”

The petition handed in at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, included 240 signatures collected by Oliver Taylor (four), older brother Harvery (15) and father Dan in Holbeach town centre last September.

We fail to see how the closure of a growing, high-performing centre, serving a community of some five million people in our region is in any way in the interests of those patients and their families

John Adler, Chief Executive of Glenfield Hospital, Leicester

At the time, Dan said: “We spent about three hours in Holbeach with the petition and the boys were fantastic.

“Oliver is only four, but he was stopping people and asking them to sign the petition.

“I was surprised to find there were a lot of people who didn’t know the heart centre could be closing and they were shocked.”

NHS England has organised a public “face-to-face” event at the Leicester Tigers rugby union stadium, in Welford Road, Leicester, on Thursday, March 9, from 6pm until 8pm.

It proposes to move surgery and heart treatment from Glenfield to either Birmingham Children’s Hospital or the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, nearly doubling the journey time from 54.5 miles to 103 miles.

But Professor Huon Gray, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, said: “It is our job to organise services so that every adult and child with congenital heart disease in this country gets not just safe or good care, but excellent care.

“No final decisions have been made, and whether or not they are carried out in the way we have suggested is subject to the outcome of public consultation.

“We have already been working with the hospitals potentially most affected by our proposals, and we look forward to hearing as many views as possible during the consultation.”