Have your say in future of children’s heart surgery

FAMILIES and campaigners have urged people from across Northern Ireland to make sure their voice is heard in the current consultation on the future provision of heart surgery for babies and children.

The deadline for responses to the consultations is Friday 21st December.

Sarah Quinlan, Children’s Heartbeat Trust Executive Officer urged people from Dungannon to make sure their voice is heard:

“The consultation document can be accessed online at www.hscboard.hscni.net/news/Paediatric_Congenital_Cardiac_Services.html, and responses can be emailed or posted. Feedback has indicated that the document can be difficult to navigate for some and for that reason we have published helpful tips on our website at www.childrensheartbeattrust.org.

In addition, it is also possible simply to write a letter with your views outlined and we have been assured that this will be included in the consultation. This can be posted to Health & Social Care Board, 12 – 22 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8BS.”

Updating on the latest stage of the campaign Sarah added: “Since this issue arose parents and children have fought an uphill battle to ensure that the safety of children is prioritised in any future provision of heart surgery in Northern Ireland.

“In England, the Health Secretary has launched a full review of similar recommendations made by officials there which would see three units close. Here, while the Stormont Health Committee called for this review process to be suspended, it will run to completion and for that reason everyone must ensure that their views are heard.

“It is vital that people understand there is a very real possibility that heart surgery in Belfast for babies and young children could be closed. The risk to life for children born here who require emergency surgery is unthinkable as well as the emotional and financial stress which families would suffer if forced to travel to England for elective operations.”

“There is evidence from other parts of the UK, that when paediatric cardiac surgery is stopped, the units find it difficult to retain and attract cardiologists and specialists and there is also a subsequent risk of deskilling our paediatric anaesthetists and intensive care staff. Let me be clear – this approach to specialist services for children in Northern Ireland would leave other low volume paediatric specialties such as neurology or renal surgery vulnerable too. We risk downgrading our amazing regional children’s hospital to a general hospital,” she added.

Submissions should be emailed to PCCSConsultation@hscni.net or posted to Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services, Consultation, Health & Social Care Board, 12 – 22 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8BS