WE THOUGHT it was madness to shut Southampton’s children’s cardiac unit – and now thousands of people across the UK have shown they feel the same.
Our fight to save children’s heart surgery in Southampton has received a huge boost after the results of a public consultation exercise revealed widespread support for the city’s world-renowned unit.
The unit at Southampton General Hospital is under threat after health chiefs gave it just a 25 per cent chance of survival as they look to have fewer, larger centres. But the public consultation –which received the biggest response in NHS history – found that Option B, which saves Southampton, is favourite overall.
However it faces tough competition from Option A, which would see surgery in the city axed in favour of Leicester’s unit.
The key findings include:
• Option B received the most support from organisations who responded to the consultation, with 63 per cent compared to Option A which got 22 per cent;
• Option A received the highest level of support from personal respondents, with 58 per cent, followed by Option B with 34 per cent;
• But the majority of these respondents were from the east Midlands and south central regions and outside these two regions, there was greater support for Option B, with 43 per cent, compared to 35 per cent for Option A;
•Clinicians were more likely to support Option B, with 52 per cent choosing B compared to 40 per cent opting for A;
• Southampton received the most positive comments by letters and email, with 3,084; n Option B received the highest number of text messages in support, with 13,487;
• There was a strong belief that quality of care should be the deciding factor – and Southampton is second best in the UK by this measure.
The four-month public consultation was launched in February as health chiefs looked to cut the UK’s 11 specialist paediatric cardiac centres down to six or seven to boost services by pooling expertise.
Despite Southampton’s quality care ranking, it featured in just one of four options put out for consultation which asked people where they believed the units should be.
If Southampton closed, families would be forced to get treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fall below the “exemplary”
standards that the city boasts.
This led to the Daily Echo launching its Have a Heart campaign which collected more than 250,000 signatures on its petition to save surgery in Southampton and was handed to the consultation team, via Downing Street.
Today’s findings reveal that medical experts agreed with those quarter of a million people, throwing their backing behind Option B, the only option that saves Southampton, while Option B is the most favoured among organisations, such as hospitals, charities and councils across the UK.
When it came to individual support, though, the report, compiled by Ipsos Mori, revealed that more people chose Option A, which would see the axe fall on surgery in Southampton in favour of Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.
But when local responses for these two hospitals are excluded, Southampton is the most favoured across the rest of the country, leaving campaigners confident that children’s heart surgery will stay in the city.
There were much lower levels of support for Options C and D.
See today's Daily Echo for more on this story
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