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Charity backs call for reorganisation of cardiac units

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A national children’s heart charity has expressed its support for a report calling for the reorganisation of congenital cardiac surgical services in England.

Little Hearts Matter said the provision of fewer, more highly skilled units, would ensure that children with complex heart conditions could have access to highly skilled surgical treatment.

The review, carried out for the NHS National Specialised Commissioning Group, will help to determine which of England’s 11 paediatric heart units are amalgamated.

Some units currently have one or two surgeons, but the report said there should be a minimum of four at each centre to deal with emergencies and to provide round-the-clock cover.

Suzie Hutchinson, chief executive of Little Hearts Matter, said: “Children born with complex heart conditions deserve the best treatment offered by the best surgeons.

“The re-organisation of surgical services is the only way to ensure that every child born with only half a working heart has a real opportunity of the best quality of life available.

“We have been waiting for these changes to be made since the recommendations for change were made after the Bristol inquiry.”

The charity said it was well documented that surgical teams that performed larger numbers of operations for single ventricle conditions had better short and long-term success rates. It said units with limited experience may be less able to offer the same levels of surgical success.

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