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Paediatric Cardiac Services

Volume 538: debated on Tuesday 10 January 2012

3. If he will take steps to ensure that the safe and sustainable review of paediatric cardiac services is fully inclusive. (88268)

The review of children’s congenital heart services is a clinically led NHS review, independent of Government. In conducting it, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts has aimed to be as inclusive as possible in relation to all issues.

The Minister will be aware that the review has been called into question because the consultation has not encompassed other medical conditions such as respiratory problems. Will he intervene so that a consensus approach can now be taken?

As I have said, the review is clinically led and independent of Government, and I am afraid that it would not be appropriate for me, or my colleagues, to intervene. Moreover, the review is the subject of legal proceedings. It will be for the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, on behalf of local commissioners, to decide the future pattern of children’s heart services on the basis of the best available evidence.

It seems nonsensical to deal with the provision of surgical services for adult and child congenital cardiac patients in separate reviews. Given the delay in the review of children’s services, does the Minister not agree that it is time to consider including them in the forthcoming review of adult services?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his suggestion, but I am afraid that I do not share his view. As he knows, there will be a review of adult services, but it has always been considered most appropriate to deal with paediatric cardiac services before adult care, and that is what we will continue to do.

Although the paediatric heart unit at Southampton general hospital is rated the best in the country outside London, it was included in only one of four options under the review. In the past, the Minister has helpfully hinted he might not be confined to considering only those four options. Can he expand on that?

I can expand on it by saying that it will not be me who considers the options. As I have told my hon. Friend before, this is an independent review. However, as he suggests, the JCPCT may decide on four, six or seven possible sites. It all depends on what the consultation produces, and the clinical decision on what is the most appropriate number of sites, which will happen eventually.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his championing of Southampton general hospital as the local Member of Parliament.