A NATIONAL heart charity has announced its backing for the option that saves children’s cardiac surgery in Southampton.

The news from Little Hearts Matter comes as a huge boost to the campaign fighting to keep the specialist service at Southampton General Hospital.

The organisation, which supports hundreds of patients born with half a working heart, believes Southampton’s option will ensure youngsters with complex heart defects receive top quality care and the best chances of survival.

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The consultation is what the government will use to evaluate which units it will keep. It is imperative that as many people as possible use this opportunity to say they want 'Option B' which will save Southampton's children's cardiac unit.

Their decision comes after members have spent the last three months collating information to determine which of the four options out to consultation offers children across the country the highest quality of service. Suzie Hutchinson, chief executive of Little Hearts Matter, said: “As a membership organisation we have continuously sought the views of our members on the shape of the service they would like to see across the country.

“Their overriding need for highly skilled surgery that offers them a chance of life and the opportunity to live that life well has led us to put our voice behind option B.

“For children with complex heart conditions, this option clearly offers the highest quality service that this country can provide.”

The announcement has been welcomed by hospital bosses, who believe the argument to keep surgery at Southampton is stronger than ever.

As reported in the Daily Echo on Wednesday, more than 150,000 people have already signed our Have a Heart petition to save the worldrenowned unit.

Mark Hackett, chief executive of Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This announcement represents another landmark moment for Southampton at a crucial stage of the consultation process. The demands for quality to be fully recognised in this review from all sides – experts, patients, families, the public and major organisations – are unrelenting and simply cannot be ignored.

“Little Hearts Matter represents hundreds of families of patients with some of the most complex congenital heart conditions and it has a strong national voice, so its support for option B is an endorsement of Southampton and the other leading centres included alongside us and is further evidence that the country won’t settle for anything less than the highest quality.”

Despite being ranked the second best in the country our paediatric heart unit is under threat as health chiefs look to cut the UK’s 11 centres down to six or seven.

Southampton was featured in just one of four options to be put out for public consultation, before the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) makes its final decision.

If Southampton closed, families would be forced to get lifesaving treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fell below the “exemplary”

standards that the city boasts.

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