WE ALL HOPE that no child we know will ever have to go to hospital for heart surgery. But we know that if the worst comes to the worst, there are world class facilities in London that can save young lives.
Unless some faceless, useless, inhuman bureaucrat strikes through a name on a list and carelessly destroys an institution which has saved and prolonged many human lives. What a way to run a country!
The Brompton has been under almost constant threat for the best part of the last decade from repeated such bureaucratic attacks. The latest move is that bureaucrats want the Brompton to stop carrying out congenital heart disease (CHD) on children. Is this because the surgery is no good? No. The service is under attack because someone sat in an office in Whitehall has decided that no hospital should do a single variety of children’s surgery, but any surgery on children should only take place in a facility which offers a range of children’s surgeries.
Normally there would be a logic in grouping children’s services together, as part of a holistic approach to medicine, in a unit where all staff were geared up to working with children. However, a case can also be made for keeping cardiac surgeons together and letting them work, within their specialism, on young and old alike – especially as the Brompton has a very good record when it comes to children’s surgery and as it works closely with the (generalist) Children’s Unit at the Chelsea & Westminster Hosital, less than half a mile away.
It gets worse. If the children’s surgery is stopped, the Brompton may fall under another arbitrary threshold set by the NHS for heart surgery in general – which may lead to the whole CHD unit being closed.
NHS big wigs have been trying to close The Brompton for years. The current attack is being opposed by heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, cancer surgeon Lord Darzi and Baroness Bothroyd (former Speaker of the House of Commons and a former patient of The Brompton Hospital) – who have written an open letter to government ministers protesting about the threat to the hospital.
The NHS is expected to take a decision about whether to close children’s surgery at the Brompton on Thursday. Our children expect them to take a humanitarian view.