Tyne & Wear

Newcastle heart surgery changes 'could cost £100m'

Image caption The Freeman Hospital carries out complex child heart surgery

A health trust could be forced to spend millions of pounds consolidating heart services onto one site.

Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust was allowed to keep heart surgery after a second review of provision in 2016.

NHS England said the trust's congenital heart disease (CHD) services, based at the Freeman Hospital, must be on the same site as paediatrics, currently at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

Local managers say moving either would mean building work costing up to £100m.

Moving child heart transplant surgery from the Freeman would split it from adult transplant and force surgeons to work over two hospitals, whilst moving some paediatric services from the RVI would separate them from others - including maternity services - based there.

NHS England carried out the second review after an earlier one was declared flawed and scrapped, and announced which hospitals could carry on performing complex heart surgery last year.

'World renowned'

Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust was included, but does not meet three of the 238 standards required.

As well as co-locating CHD services and paediatrics, it must recruit a fourth heart surgeon and perform more operations.

It was allowed extra time to comply and a consultation is now underway to determine how this should be done.

NHS England said "no other provider currently has" the same capability as the Newcastle trust.

It also accepted moving congenital heart surgery could not be done "without a negative effect on patients".

Dr Michael Gregory, NHS England's regional clinical director, said: "We recognise that the Freeman is a centre for excellence nationally, it's well renowned and world renowned and we have every intention that cardiac transplant should continue at the Freeman."

He accepted that would mean child heart surgery continuing alongside that, as the same surgeons perform both.

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