Jeremy Hunt: We've got our eye on you
We’ve got our eye on Jeremy Hunt as he decides whether or not to axe a children’s cardiac surgery unit.
He is reviewing plans to stop kids’ heart operations at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester. If the unit closes, children requiring life-saving heart surgery would have to travel 40 miles to Birmingham. Campaigners fear this longer journey could cost lives, and would make it much harder – and more costly – for families to visit children in hospital.
More than 82,000 people have signed a petition against the proposed cuts at Glenfield, which currently operates on 230 kids a year and has the country’s largest ECMO unit, which provides vital life support by oxygenating critically ill patients’ blood. ECMO expert Dr Kenneth Palmer has warned that up to 10 children will die a year if the Glenfield unit closes.
But the NHS said its plans were part of a scheme to move children’s cardiac services from four hospital into larger facilities, where better care was on offer. Mr James Roxburgh, President of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland, claimed the intiative would “create a more sustainable service for the future”.He said: “For too long surgical expertise has been spread too thinly across too many hospitals and services need to be better coordinated to deliver expert care closer to where families live.”
At a protest outside the House of Commons last month urging politicians to save the unit, campaigner Mick Whitely said:
“The staff, doctors, surgeons and nurses are amazing. Together they have a set of skills that cannot be replicated anywhere else, and the care they provide is second to none. Without that we would not be where we are with our son.”
Following an e-petition against the decision reaching 100,000 signatures, the issue will now be debated in Parliament, and Jeremy Hunt has asked for an initial review of the plans. We’ll be watching.
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