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Audit reveals good news for heart patients – Will Huxter

Hello, and welcome to my latest blog on the implementation of the national Congenital Heart Disease programme.

It includes details on the latest National Congenital Heart Disease Audit, the self-assessment process providers of CHD services are undertaking and forthcoming implementation meeting; I’d really welcome any comments or questions you may have on these subjects or any other you have.

The latest National Congenital Heart Disease Audit report covering the period 2012 to 2015 has been published by The National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR) and shows very good outcomes for congenital heart procedures – surgical operations and cardiology interventions – as well as improvements in antenatal detection of infant heart problems.

The report is available on the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) website.

Overall, survival for children and young people after heart surgery – measured at 30 days – is at least as good as predicted at all the specialist children’s heart units, and for four centres is statistically better than predicted.

The report also raised a couple of concerns. Two centres had 30 day survival rates which triggered an ‘alert’ for a single procedure during this period. Both hospitals have been notified, and NICOR and the relevant professional societies have provided assurance of the quality of these services.

One centre had a data quality index score below the acceptable threshold. NICOR has given detailed feedback including recommendations on how to improve data quality.

Michael Wilson, responding to the audit on behalf of the programme, said: “NHS England welcomes the continued improvement in surgical and interventional care for people with Congenital Heart Disease and the national audit is important in measuring this progress.

“While 30-day mortality is a key measure, NHS England is working with HQIP and NICOR and patient and public groups to improve the measures available to give a better all-round understanding of the service. NHS England is also supporting work to improve earlier diagnosis of CHD and it is good to see that this focus is reaping rewards with improved diagnosis through antenatal screening.”

Turning now to commissioning for standards, we have now completed our evaluation of the self-assessment returns and we are preparing a report for Specialised Services Commissioning Committee (SSCC) which is a sub-committee of the NHS England board, which next meets at the end of June.

No decisions on next steps will be taken until after these discussions by SSCC and we will not be releasing any information on our assessments before this time.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to deliver a very active programme of work to support the implementation of the standards including a new implementation group.

This group will bring together clinicians with an interest in CHD, service and network managers, patient representatives and commissioners to work together on putting the whole span of standards into practice, and sharing how this is approached in the different centres.

The next meeting will be on 17 June and will focus on the fetal and maternity standards.


will-huxterWill Huxter is Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London) at NHS England and currently chair of the NHS England Gender Task & Finish Group.

Prior to joining NHS England in June 2014, Will worked in a range of commissioning roles within the NHS, and for five years at an NHS Trust.

He has also spent eight years working in the voluntary sector.

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