NHS England reaction to independent reconfiguration panel report on the proposed changes to children’s heart surgery

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.

For further information, please e-mail the NHS England media team.

For media calls on this issue office hours 0207 972 6114.

Out of hours call 07768 901293.


  1. Sue says:

    As I stated on 25 April 2012 “The review failed in its purpose as it did not consider all children with all conditions fairly in accordance with your very own statements on equality. One of the areas in which the review failed was childrens EP which are all specialized services in your very own NHS documentation.”

    Therefore, please ensure that any new review considers proper safe and sustainable services for congenital EP for both children and adults in England. It is not just the congenital adult services that are dependent on the childrens services, but services such as EP for children are dependent on the adult services. The most experience for arrhythmias lies within the major pacemaker and ICD centres therefore they should have access to the major centres and not be forced into minor centres with less experience.

  2. Councillor John Illingworth says:

    People in Yorkshire and the Humber have generally welcomed the statement by the Secretary of State for Health, and I am sure that they will support the search for a new consensus. Key elements in this are fair representation based on population on all decision-making bodies, and appropriate weighting for ethnicity and socioeconomic factors when planning NHS services and analysing clinical outcomes. Local councils have detailed knowledge of their local populations, which complements the clinical expertise available within the NHS. Local authorities should therefore be engaged as partners. There is widespread support for evidence-based medicine and rational decision-making, but it is important that all relevant information is taken into account.

  3. Angela Trinder says:

    Please ensure NHS England that none of the original members of Safe & Sustainable Advisory Group are not members of new review, if they were there would be biased accountability and maleficence.

    How on earth a problem according to Ian Kennedy that has been around since 1993, along with himself on this matter. Can be resolved by Dr. Cornish for publication end of July is truly farcical unless she is going to reconfigure your original report?

    Thanking you in anticipation of a response,
    Kind regards, Angela Trinder


    keep it open is a must