Consultation on future of congenital heart services

Megan and Olivia McGarvey at the end of the Mini Great North Run.
Megan and Olivia McGarvey at the end of the Mini Great North Run.

Patients and their families from north Northumberland are being urged to respond to a consultation on the future of treatment for heart defects.

The consultation follows months of delay after a previous review of children’s congenital cardiac services – the safe and sustainable review – put the future of some highly specialised children’s surgical services in doubt, with Leeds at risk at the expense of Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

The independent review panel appointed by the Health Secretary to reassess the whole process concluded that the proposals to stop surgery at three hospitals in England were flawed, leaving too many questions about sustainability unanswered. The new review brings children’s and adults’ services together.

In recent years, the Gazette has reported on two girls whose lives were saved by the Freeman; Summer Carss, from Shilbottle, who has had two heart transplants, and Megan McGarvey, from Amble, who has undergone several operations at the hospital.

Indeed, Megan’s treatment was so successful that she took part in the 2013 Mini Great North Run having come off medication after years of surgery and treatment.

MP Sir Alan Beith said: “Under the previous review, I was contacted by constituents who were very worried that services could be lost from the Freeman, forcing families from the North East to travel long distances to get the highly-specialised care needed for very sick children and babies.

“I hope the new review will safeguard the excellent cardiac surgery services at the Freeman for both children and adults.”

The consultation is at http://tinyurl.com/lf99p83