Children's heart surgery at Glenfield Hospital to stop

Glenfield Hospital Image copyright PA
Image caption Campaigners have fought for years to save the specialist heart unit at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital

Children's heart surgery is to stop at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, the BBC understands.

It was thought the service would move to a new children's hospital in the city but staff were told it would no longer be supported by NHS England.

The hospital was told it does not meet new standards set by the NHS following a national review last year.

Leicester Hospitals said it would "not sit by whilst they destroy our fabulous service".

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John Adler, chief executive at University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL), said that over the past 18 months the Trust had worked hard to meet NHS England's standards set out in the New Congenital Heart Disease Review.

"We are confident that our clinical outcomes are now amongst the best in the country so we strongly disagree with NHS England's decision and will not sit by whilst they destroy our fabulous service," he added.

Image caption The Trust which runs Leicester hospitals said stopping children's heart surgery in the city would impact the intensive care unit

This work has included increasing the number of beds in the unit, investment in staffing and provisional work on moving the children's heart unit to a new hospital.

Leicester MP Liz Kendall said she would write to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt calling for an urgent meeting and setting out her opposition to the closure.

"Decisions must be based on what's best for children and the latest evidence on clinical outcomes shows that the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre is one of the best performing surgical centres in England," she said.

"Closing the unit would also compromise our paediatric intensive care unit, with a knock on effect on other vital children's services in Leicester, and put at risk our world leading ECMO service which is the largest in the country, with the only national patient transport service."

Leicestershire County Council discussed the decision at a meeting earlier and said the closure was "not justified".

Councillor Ernie White, cabinet member for health, said: "I will be urgently seeking further information so I can fully understand the implications on Glenfield and the wider NHS. We cannot afford to lose such a valued unit."

The news was met with dismay on BBC Leicester's Facebook page where more than 100 people have commented on the story.

NHS England has so far declined to comment.

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