Tyne & Wear

North East heart services 'secured by government funding'

Surgery
Image caption The Freeman Hospital carries out complex child heart surgery

A £41.7m cash injection to a North East hospital trust will protect children's heart surgery, health bosses say.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Trust will receive the money as one of 20 projects green lit by the government.

The money will help fund the move of the Children's Heart Unit from Newcastle's Freeman Hospital to the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

NHS England last year said the switch was necessary for heart services to continue in the region.

Two years ago it said the only way children's heart surgery could continue in the region was if it moved across from the Freeman to the same site as the Great North Children's Hospital at the RVI.

Local managers said the process could take five years and has an estimated cost of about £100m.

Specialist centres

Yamuna Thiru, a consultant paediatrician, said: "The whole team is absolutely delighted and slightly shocked that finally we have received the financial recognition and secured our future.

"I've been a consultant here for 16 years and for many of those years we've been troubled by the doubt our services will be closed."

Fears over the future of children's heart surgery in the region began after child heart surgery deaths in Bristol led to a decision to have fewer, more specialist heart centres across England.

Health Minister Chris Skidmore said: "When you look at the plans that have been drawn up they believe the money that is going in will put the services on a secure and sustainable footing and they've told us this is the best way they can secure children's services for the future in Newcastle.

"We trust them to be able to deliver this."

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