Concerns for Channel Island children if unit closes

Sick children from the Channel Islands could have to travel further for treatment if a specialist heart centre in Southampton closes.

The facility that is used to treat young people with heart problems is currently under review.

There are concerns expertise in children's heart surgery are being spread too thinly across the UK.

Lucy Prevel from Guernsey, whose seven-year-old son was born with two holes in his heart, is against the proposal.

Highest standards

She said the heart unit in Southampton had saved her son's life, but the review could mean she would have to travel further to hospitals in London or Bristol for his treatment.

She said: "Taking away a place where people have formed relationships with these doctors caring for their children would be devastating."

The NHS National Specialised Commissioning Group is carrying out the review.

They are assessing which centres should stop doing surgery and which should be expanded to provide the best, most specialised care.

A report by the group says a balance has to be struck between services that are close to home and services that provide enough specialist skills to provide the highest standards of care.

At the moment, four children's heart surgery centres have only one or two paediatric surgeons.

'Feel bleak'

There are no plans to cut the overall number of surgeons, but it is likely some would have to move to different centres. Each would have a minimum of four surgeons.

The centres that stopped doing surgery could continue doing non-surgical treatments like diagnostics out-patient care.

Dr Marcus Haw, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Southampton Hospital, said: "One day I wake up and think everything is going to be fine, but the next day I feel bleak at the end of the day we have to wait for the review."

A public consultation on services closes in July.

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