Skegness heart patients in call to save cardiac facility

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YOUNG Skegness heart patients have urged the public to support a campaign to save a children’s cardiac ward which provides their vital treatment.

Ross Hall, Reece Toone and their family joined representatives from Heartlink to raise awareness about a consultation that might result in the closure of Glenfields Children’s Cardiac Unit.

Although the hospital is in Leicester campaigners at the Hildreds Centre, Skegness, on Saturday stressed that children with serious heart conditions throughout Lincolnshire depend upon its services.

Mother of nine-year-old Reece Toone, Nicola Annable, said: “Because there’s not so much coverage at this end, people don’t really know about it but it’s the most local one we have.

“If it was closed it would affect Reece a lot - he has built up a level of trust and knows all of the staff there and when he has to go somewhere else it is much more daunting for him.”

Reece has been receiving treatment at the hospital since he was just one day old and has undergone seven operations from its specialist heart surgeons.

However as part of a ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review, which recommends a reduction in the number of children’s cardiac centres, Reece and his family may have to travel an extra 90 minutes to Birmingham to be treated.

Fellow Glenfield heart patient 18-year-old Skegness Grammar School student Ross Hill has been undergoing treatment at the cardiac unit throughout his life and believes the increased journey times could be detrimental to his health.

“It would make the whole situation a lot more stressful and I don’t think Birmingham would be able to cope with the increased number of patients,” he said.

“Glenfield has the capacity to tend to more people - it’s such a well equipped and modern facility it would be a real shame to lose out on it.”

The purpose of the review is to create fewer more specialised centres providing better training for surgeons and improved results for patients.

Currently there are 11 centres in the UK but the consultation recommends a reduction to six or seven so that those remaining have more surgeons to guarantee a safe 24/7 service.

The Hold On To Your Heart campaign aims to highlight the worth of Glenfields so that it will be one of the hospitals retained under the changes.

The hospital and its advocates have pointed to its world leading Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) that it was first in the country to pioneer.

NHS leaders have said the nation owed Leicester a ‘dent of gratitude’ for its expertise in the the treatment which is used to treat very sick patients in preparation for surgery.

Many patients dependent on Glenfield’s cardiac centre already travel large distances for their treatment and opponents to its closure feel that making them travel any further could exacerbate their condition. The consultation runs until July 1. To make your comments visit www.specialisedservices.nhs.uk/safeandsustainable.