A campaign for a dedicated Children's Hospital in Southampton has been launched, with strong backing from key politicians, charity fundraisers and the Southern Daily Echo.
"Say Yes George" went live on the front page of the Daily Echo on Friday 18th February, with Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine and well-known actors Sarah Parish and Jim Murray, from the Murray Parish Trust, leading efforts to secure capital help from George Osborne in the Budget.
Steve Brine said: "I was heavily involved, in the last Parliament, in making the case for the retention of children's heart surgery in Southampton. It's blindingly obvious that we need to retain that discipline in the South working across a proven clinical network including Oxford and the Island. That plays into my belief that we want a balanced NHS locally, combining centres of world-leading excellence around the major trauma centre, Southampton, while providing other acute tertiary care at District General Hospitals such as Winchester."
Sarah Parish and Jim Murray set up the Murray Parish Trust in memory of their late daughter Ella-Jayne, who died of congenital heart failure in 2009. When they are not working in the film and TV world they dedicate their time to raising funds for the charity.
They currently work alongside "Friends of PICU", the charity for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital, and have met with Steve Brine in Parliament and in their home city of Winchester to discuss their work and this exciting project.
Steve continued: "I was struck by the fact there are ten children's hospitals in the North of England with facilities exclusively dedicated to the needs of children and young people, while London has three. Here in the South of England we have one hospital providing comprehensive specialist children's services, here in Southampton, but they're scattered across a busy adult hospital and this needs to change. Children are not simply small adults and modern paediatric medicine demands specialist services tailored to their, often complex, needs.
"The South of England, with a fast growing population, needs a dedicated Children's Hospital and it's logical that this ambition begins with a dedicated Paediatric Emergency and Trauma department sitting alongside a world-class University Teaching Hospital. The aim is to free up capacity so adult patients can benefit from faster emergency care and better outcomes and is absolutely, in time, to see it become a full children's hospital.
"The other attraction for me as an MP in the region is, through this project, to tap into what are already successful networks working with our district hospitals. My hope is that we can raise the bar across the piste because enhanced provision in Southampton must complement, not draw away from, other parts of the local health economy."
On Monday 15th February, Steve, Sarah and Jim were joined by Echo editor Ian Murray, clinicians and Southampton MPs Alan Whitehead and Royston Smith at Southampton General Hospital to discuss the plans, and walk through the site. While they were there, they met young Felix Barrow, an 11 year-old from Swanmore, who is in recovery after being hit by a car back in October.
Steve added: "I've spoken on several occasions already with the Chancellor as he prepares for his Budget on March 16th. The aim is to secure a significant investment towards the capital costs of this initial build so the charity partners can go out to potential donors with real certainty this is going to happen. I've been able to ask George Osborne personally to 'Say Yes' but we need people from across the area to add their voice now so there's no mistaking our desire to do this inside Downing Street."
How can you help?
To help persuade Chancellor George Osborne to agree that the Treasury should match fun money raised locally towards a dedicated Children's A&E Department at Southampton, you can make a difference by:
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