Greg Hands, M.P. for Chelsea and Fulham, visited Royal Brompton on Monday 4th April to see the excellent work of the hospital’s paediatric teams. He also met chief executive Mr Bob Bell, and Trust chairman, Sir Robert Finch, to hear more about the full impact of removing children’s heart surgery from Royal Brompton – one of the recommendations in the Safe & Sustainable review of paediatric cardiac surgery.
Greg was given a tour of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Rose ward (the children’s ward), where he met a number of the hospital’s leading paediatric consultants including director of children’s services Dr Duncan Macrae.
He also met patients and their families and heard personal stories of their care and treatment at Royal Brompton.
Leigh, mother of Georgia Beazley, who is a cystic fibrosis patient, said: “Royal Brompton is well worth the three-hour round trip as you just can’t get this specialised care from our local hospitals …. Whenever she’s in our local hospital they just spend all their time on the phone asking Royal Brompton what to do, so we prefer to actually be here, where everyone knows what to do. The support is great, we are able to meet other families and Georgia has some lessons here and a laptop for her schoolwork and for social networking.”
Chinenye Ashiegbu, whose daughter Gabriella had complex heart surgery under the care of Mr Olivier Ghez, said: “The service here is fantastic, the nurses and doctors are so kind and helpful. They keep you updated and explain everything to you – and they have looked after me too, providing accommodation so I can be close to my daughter.
“The children here are in good hands, people can rest assured they have nothing to fear. If they take away this service I don’t know what we will do.”
If children’s heart surgery is withdrawn from Royal Brompton the impact on other services will be severe. It would not be practical (or financially viable) to keep the hospital’s PICU open or its paediatric anaesthetists on site. Without the PICU, interventional cardiology, which depends on having teams of surgeons and anaesthetists on hand, could not be undertaken and Royal Brompton’s respiratory teams would find it impossible to do any complex procedures, or those requiring anaesthesia, making their service untenable. The entire unit would have to close, seriously affecting many vulnerable children, including those with life-long conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Mr Hands said: “I was very impressed with what I saw today. I was obviously aware that Royal Brompton offers specialist care for those with heart and lung conditions, but I found meeting patients and their families very informative and incredibly moving. I was only up on the wards for half an hour but even in that time was struck by how well everything seemed to be organised, and how highly parents spoke of the treatment their children receive. Being invited to see the work of NHS centres of excellence such as Royal Brompton is always a pleasure, and I look forward to my next visit.”