In February 2011, the JCPCT announced that the outcome of the Safe and Sustainable Review of children’s congenital heart services was that children’s heart surgery should cease at the Royal Brompton. Following a judicial review and a further appeal, this decision was confirmed in July 2012. In October 2012, the Secretary of State for Health announced a full review of the JCPCT’s decision by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (“IRP”).
As Trustees, we will not involve ourselves in the politics of the extraordinary decision of the JCPCT, but will continue to focus on doing what we can to support children with arrhythmia and their families, wherever this effort is most effectively provided. To this end, we have made a submission to the IRP.
The implications of the Review’s decision for children’s cardiac electrophysiology services at the Brompton are far from clear, and will in all probability not become known for some considerable time. The catheter laboratory facilities and the electrophysiology research are world class. Any change to replicate these and the Brompton’s clinical services elsewhere would take considerable time and money to implement. In the meanwhile, Ben’s Nurse will continue to fulfil the role that has become such a key part of the Brompton’s groundbreaking service.
Moreover, plans are under development to recruit two additional electrophysiology nurse specialists, working alongside Ben’s Nurse with both adults and children to build an integrated structure for family care, as well as a role providing clinical psychological support.
The net result is that the inherited cardiac disease service is being built up rather than dismantled, supporting families right out into the community as pioneered by Ben’s Nurse.
We will continue to monitor developments and ensure that we only commit funds to sustainable activities.