A major NHS consultation to help shape the future of children’s congenital heart services closes today with nearly 60,000 parents, children and health professionals around the country having had their say in how services should be provided in the future.
The Safe and Sustainable consultation asked for views on the proposals to make services safe and sustainable for the future by having fewer, larger centres of expertise and creating congenital heart networks to provide care closer to home.
Teresa Moss, Director of the National Specialised Commissioning Team, expressed her thanks to everyone who had taken part in the consultation.
“While the case for change is widely supported by medical experts, the NHS fully recognises these are not easy decisions. I would like to thank everyone for contributing to the consultation and for people’s comments and suggestions on how best to provide these vital services. No decisions will be made until all the evidence submitted during consultation has been thoroughly reviewed and analysed. Above all the NHS wants to ensure it makes the right decision for children with congenital heart disease in the future.”
Over the coming months responses to the consultation will be analysed by an independent, expert third party. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts – the decision making body – will consider the feedback carefully and consider other relevant evidence. Additional information will be considered by the Joint Committee including detailed analysis from the Health Impact Assessment work, results from testing families’ travel patterns validated procedure numbers and Trusts’ detailed capacity planning information. In addition, an independent panel will consider the potential impact of the proposals on related services at the Royal Brompton Hospital and will provide advice to the Joint Committee.
More responses are expected over the course of the day. So far, people have shared their views in a wide variety of ways:
· 24,202 hard copy response forms:
· 13,645 online response forms
· 21,230 text messages
· 234 letters
· 8 petitions
· 2,086 people attended 16 consultation events, including three workshops specifically for young people
· 31 focus groups with parents, children and BAME groups
· 8 Health Impact Assessment workshops, supplemented by additional phone interviews and family interviews
The JCPCT is expected to make a final decision by the end of 2011. Implementation of any changes to children’s congenital heart services is expected to start in 2013. A detailed implementation plan will be developed once a decision has been made.