Royal Brompton Hospital respiratory unit 'viable'

Royal Brompton Child heart surgery is under threat at the Royal Brompton

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The children's respiratory ward at London's Royal Brompton Hospital could remain open if other crucial services are shut down, a report has found.

An independent panel found the unit in Chelsea west London would still be viable in the absence of an on-site paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

The hospital's paediatric heart surgery unit is facing closure under a review of children's heart surgery in England.

Experts agreed the PICU would not be viable if the heart unit closes.

Dr Gillian Halley, consultant in paediatric intensive care and director of children's long term ventilation, said their work would be quite impossible without the PICU.

'Minimum requirements'

In response to the report she said; "To see that they (the panel) did recognise this, but have suggested that we downgrade the care we offer, is frankly shocking.

"The alternative they propose may not even meet the minimum requirements of safe clinical standards, never mind best practice."

The hospital's services were scrutinised as part of a national review aimed at streamlining paediatric congenital cardiac surgery services around the country.

It concluded with a proposal to end child heart surgery at up to five hospitals, as evidence showed larger units had better results.

But last month the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust won a judicial review into the decision, due to take place later this month.

Judicial review

The hospital argues the closure of the heart surgery unit could affect other vital services such as the respiratory unit that treats young people with cystic fibrosis and asthma.

But research by Safe And Sustainable, which is carrying out a consultation into the proposals, found the respiratory services could continue to be delivered safely in the absence of an on-site paediatric intensive care unit.

Adrian Pollitt OBE, who led the independent panel commissioned by Safe and Sustainable, said it "unanimously agrees with Safe and Sustainable that in the absence of an on-site paediatric intensive care unit paediatric respiratory services would remain viable at the Royal Brompton hospital".

Chief executive of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Bob Bell, said: "The review's failure to properly assess the knock-on effects on other Trust services and research programmes of the removal of children's heart surgery, is just one of a number of flaws in the consultation process."

A committee of primary care trusts will make a final decision on the closures later this year.

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