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NHS England today promised to lead a rethink of plans to improve children’s heart surgery in England following publication of an independent report on the Safe and Sustainable Review.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England said:
“We welcome the review and NHS England will now study its recommendations in full to learn from them. We will institute a new process that recognises the very strong case for redesigning services to meet the demands of the future whilst addressing the legitimate concerns in our local communities.”
The Safe and Sustainable Review assessed nationally, for the first time, the quality of care given to children born with a serious heart condition. An extensive consultation exercise attracted some 75,000 responses
Professor Huon Gray, National Clinical Director for Cardiac Care for NHS England said:
“We want to acknowledge the huge effort and commitment of all involved. We are pleased the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s (IRP) endorsed the case for children’s heart surgery and interventional cardiology to be provided only by well-resourced, specialist teams providing round the clock cover, and the use of national standards for commissioning the pathway of care.
“But the Independent Reconfiguration Panel has also raised some really important issues, which mean we cannot implement change immediately. This is matter of regret for everyone who wants to improve care for children today.”
Dr Jacqueline Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children and Young People for NHS England said:
“It is essential that all those involved can learn lessons from the Safe and Sustainable Review and work purposefully and quickly together to find a new way forward in the shortest possible timescale. If we are not able to make progress swiftly, children will be the losers.
“As of April, NHS England is the new national commissioner of these services so it is our responsibility to lead the process on behalf of children and their families.
“We want to build consensus on the way forward, working with all those affected.
“So we will take the time to listen before coming up with a new proposition, working with patients, clinicians and the providers of services. We intend to announce a new way forward in the autumn, with plans for implementation within 12 months.
Prior to receiving the IRP Report, it was important to keep options open. In order to meet legal deadlines, NHS England sought leave to appeal against the previous high court judgement on the Safe and Sustainable Review. It is now asking the Court’s permission to withdraw the appeal.
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