The new Congenital Heart Disease review: 42nd update

Since the publication of this blog John Holden has left NHS England.

In July 2013 the Board of NHS England accepted responsibility for a new review of CHD services, and outlined the approach we would take.  Almost exactly two years later, on 23 July 2015, we are bringing a report back to our Board, which describes the conclusions of the review, based on the six objectives which were set.  We are asking the Board to:

  • Agree the proposed model of care, and standards and service specifications;
  • Agree the proposals for earlier diagnosis and improvements in information;
  • Note the analysis of the required service capacity and
  • Agree the proposals for commissioning the service and for implementation, including monitoring and management of adherence to the standards.

The papers going to the Board meeting can be found here. I should warn you that with lengthy appendices, the full pack runs to over 300 pages, so perhaps best not to “print all”. The main Board paper, which is the first item in the pack, is a slightly more digestible 30 pages. I hope you find this helpful, and an accurate portrayal of the work we have all done together these last two years. Taking the report to Board is a watershed moment; it marks the end of the review as a piece of policy work, and the start of a process of implementation.  This is an achievement in itself, and would have been impossible without the hard work, co-operation, and trust of all those involved, who have given so much of their time and energy. We are very, very grateful.

Patients, families and their representatives

On 13 July we held a Joint Engagement and Advisory Group Meeting, bringing together patient representatives, clinicians and hospital managers.  We shared an outline of the Board paper for 23 July.  Provider representatives told the meeting about their work to consider how they could meet the new CHD standards.  There were also presentations on earlier diagnosis, on better information flows, and on plans for commissioning the CHD service in future.

Jo Stringer and Sara Geater, Communication Leads from NHS England’s Specialised Commissioning team, joined the group.   They ran a short session to get some views on what has worked well, not so well, and what engagement stakeholders would find useful in future.  Jo and Sara got some very candid and extremely valuable feedback, which they will use to help create an engagement plan.

Clinicians and their organisations

Clinicians and hospital managers have been considering how their CHD services might work together in future as networks, to deliver the new standards.  Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers, has facilitated a number of discussions, and has kindly prepared a report on the process.


Our Clinical Advisory Panel met on 4 June. The notes of the meeting and the Panel’s recommendations can be found here.

NHS England and other partners

Our Programme Board met on 30 June to take stock of the programme and received updates on Objective 5 – “Better Information” and Objective 6 – “Better Outcomes”. Papers for the meeting can be found here.


NHS England has about 70 clinical reference groups (CRGs) which provide clinical advice on the different specialised services that we commission.  Our review team has worked closely with the congenital heart services CRG, and as we now move into the next phase of our work (from review to implementation), the CRG will take on responsibility for some aspects of the work. For example, the CRG is setting up a new information sub-group to take forward the review’s recommendations on better information.   Julia Grace, who has attended some of our CHD stakeholder meetings, is chairing an implementation group that brings together a range of partner organisations with a focus on early diagnosis.


NHS England’s Board meeting in public on 23 July will take place in London.  Board papers will be made available a few days before the meeting. If you would like to attend, please register your interest as places are limited. Please contact and let us know if you have any requirements for the day.  Alternatively, you can watch NHS England’s live stream of the Board meeting.

John Holden was previously Director of Policy, Partnerships and Innovation, since the publication of these blogs he has left NHS England.

One comment

  1. Sue Bell says:

    Will there be any published books of the final standards now that they have been approved and where can we get them from.

    Thank you