Parents across Melton are celebrating today (Thursday) after a Leicester children’s heart unit was saved from closure.
Residents faced having to take children with heart defects for treatment much further away at a Birmingham hospital if NHS England went ahead with its proposals to close the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital.
It was felt that the unit would not meet health service guidelines to treat enough patients over the coming years to make it viable to continue.
But a campaign involving protest marches and a petition signed by 130,000 and delivered to 10 Downing Street, together with plans by the Leicester’s Hospitals trust to increase its workload convinced NHS England to keep it open.
John Adler, chief executive at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are obviously delighted with the decision to continue commissioning EMCHC as a Level 1 congenital heart disease centre.
“The decision is a vote of confidence for our staff and service, and is great news for our NHS partners across the East Midlands network.
“The future is now in our hands and this decision means that the clinical team can now focus on building a world class congenital heart service for people across the East Midlands and beyond.”
Karamjit Singh, chairman at Leicester’s Hospitals, added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre staff for their incredible resilience and hard work to achieve and more importantly maintain the level of quality and service over this difficult period.
“We would also like to acknowledge the fantastic support we have had from our stakeholders; patients, relatives, charities, local councils, NHS partners, MPs and media, their unwavering commitment has kept our spirits up during these uncertain times.”
Aidan Bolger, head of service for the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, said: “I am delighted by the decision made by the NHS England board today.
“It puts an end to years of uncertainty, and is a testament to the professionalism, energy and determination of all the EMCHC staff that have fought to ensure our service delivers the highest quality of care to meet the required standards.
“Patients in the East Midlands can now be assured that they have access to a Congenital Heart Disease centre of excellence, as close to home as possible, and we can continue to offer our internationally renowned ECMO and mobile ECMO service to the whole of the UK.
“I look forward to focussing all our energy on growing our service and delivering our plan with the confidence to attract and retain the best specialised staff possible and working with our network partners, and NHS Specialised Commissioning to make EMCHC the centre of choice for patients with congenital heart disease.”