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Children's Cardiac Services

Volume 536: debated on Tuesday 22 November 2011

3. What plans he has for the future of children's cardiac services in England; and if he will make a statement. (81797)

The review of children’s congenital heart services is a clinically led, NHS review, independent of government. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts—JCPCT—on behalf of local NHS commissioners, will decide the future pattern of children’s heart surgery services in England. It is expected to make that decision next year.

I thank the Minister for his reply. In view of the Royal Brompton’s judicial review verdict, does he agree that it is imperative that the breakdown of the assessments of all centres and all areas is fully disclosed, so that confidence in the Safe and Sustainable review can be restored?

As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, it is imperative that Ministers continue to remain totally independent of this review, so that we cannot be accused of interfering. As he knows, the JCPCT has said that it plans to appeal against the decision, and we will have to await the outcome of that.

I fully appreciate the degree of independence that Ministers must preserve, but is there anything that this Minister can say on the methodology of the review to reassure the children’s heart unit at Southampton general hospital, which is rated the best in the country outside London, given that the review was, at one stage, excluding the entire population of the Isle of Wight in its calculations as to whether or not the unit should be in more than one of the four options being put forward?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question, although I will disappoint him by saying that I will not be led from my chosen path and start to voice an opinion. I will say, as I did say during the earlier debate that he attended, that of course it is not set in stone that there will be only four options chosen, as and when—the number could be more. That is dependent on the consultations and the decision of the JCPCT, but he will appreciate that I cannot seek to influence those decisions.