Great local news in national congenital heart disease review

Steve Brine has welcomed news that Southampton Children's Hospital, which specialises in children's heart surgery, has been confirmed as one of the top-performing hospitals in the country, after NHS England announced action to ensure core standards of quality and sustainability across all specialist services are to come into effect.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) services have been the subject of a number of reviews since the public inquiry at Bristol Royal Infirmary in 2001, and in 2015 NHS England published new commissioning standards following extensive consultation with patients and their families, clinicians and other experts.

Since then, hospital trusts, including Southampton Children's Hospital which covers the Winchester & Chandler's Ford area, providing CHD services have been asked to assess themselves against the standards, which came into effect from April 2016, and report back on their plans to meet them within the set time frames.

Steve Brine, who has worked closely with Southampton Children's Hospital, on both retaining children's heart surgery service provision and the Two Million Steps campaign, is delighted the hospital has been recognised as one of the best hospitals in the country.

He said: "This is obviously very good news for Southampton and the wider region. This has been a painfully long and slow process but it had to be right and, above all, it had to be clinically sound. I know there has been a rigorous assessment by clinicians taking a national overview and that is as it should be.

"What we want out of this process is a more focussed children's cardiac sector which delivers world class outcomes for children and their families."

Dr Jonathan Fielden, NHS England Director of Specialised Commissioning and Deputy National Medical Director, said: "Patients, families and staff need to be assured of sustainable, high quality services now, and into the future.

"There has been a great deal of uncertainty over the future of congenital heart disease services over the past fifteen years. We owe it to patients, families and staff to end that uncertainty, and to provide clear direction for the safety and quality of this specialist area of medicine going forward.

"A great deal of work has gone into achieving consensus across the board on the standards that providers should meet. We are determined to take all actions necessary to ensure that those standards are met, so that patients get the high quality and safe services that they expect and deserve.

"This is further proof that NHS England as the national commissioner of specialised care is stepping up decisively on behalf of patients now and to sustain quality care for the future."

Congenital heart disease affects up to 9 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK, with differing types of CHD and levels of severity. Some of the more common CHDs include septal defects, commonly referred to as a "hole in the heart", coarctation (or narrowing) of the aorta, pulmonary valve stenosis, where the valve controlling blood flow to the lungs is narrower than normal, and transposition of the great arteries, where the pulmonary and aortic valves and the arteries they're connected to have swapped positions.

Dr Kevin Roman, a consultant paediatric cardiologist and clinical lead at Southampton Children's Hospital, said: "Staff in our unit have continued to provide the highest standards of treatment and care for patients and their families in recent years despite much uncertainty over the future of children's heart surgery services in England.

"During that time, we have maintained our position as one of the top-performing centres in the country and, in partnership with Oxford Children's Hospital, have continued to work successfully towards meeting the requirements set out by NHS England to deliver the best possible care to patients in the south.

"We are delighted for the patients, families and staff across the Oxford-Southampton Congenital Cardiac Network and we will continue to work with all our regional partners to produce a high quality, sustainable service for all in our care over the coming months and years."

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, who was the chair of the public inquiry at Bristol Royal Infirmary, said: "These are vital services and we have waited 15 years to arrive at a solution which delivers quality and consistency for current and future generations. It is good news for patients that there is finally a clear consensus on the standards that need to be met, and that we are now seeing decisive action to make those standards a reality for every patient in every part of the country."

Pictured; Steve Brine with campaigners to retain children's heart surgery in Southampton as they took their message to 10 Downing Street

More information ...

Southampton Children's Hospital

Children's Heart Surgery campaign

Say Yes George campaign and Two Million Steps