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New proposals to amend heart surgery

Thursday 23rd July 2015
New proposals have been released that aim to improve how cardiac departments run in England. Image Credit: selimaksan
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A two-year review has come to an end and has released fresh proposals on how to make changes that could improve cardiac departments in England.

The proposals, which will be considered by a board later this week, aim to help solve a long-running problem of how congenital heart surgery is performed. They suggest that surgeons across NHS England should work as a larger network.

It is not the first time that measures have been taken to change the current system, but plans have been derailed after being challenged by experts and legal courts. This led to the government coming to the conclusion that the general public had lost confidence in the system.

The review suggests that cardiac surgeons should work in teams of at least four. Each of these teams would then perform at least 125 highly specialised congenital heart operations every year.

However, the document warns that some heart units are currently not working like this and would need to change.

A report from the BBC highlights another paper written by a sub-group representing hospital providers. It acknowledges that closing centres could still be an option.

The paper warns: "Delivery of the standards requires providers to solve some knotty issues that previous processes have failed to solve.

"There is still a chance this process might break down."

The paper also highlights that although parts of the process have been frustrating, it has been a worthwhile venture so far, which has stimulated a different kind of conversation to ones made previously.

It states that the system is making progress, while addressing some difficult issues.

"NHS England has indicated that it wants to commission the new service and have it up and running by April 2016," it reads.

It is hoped that changing the way that congenital heart surgery is performed will help reduce costs, while also ensuring that children and adults needing this specialist care get the treatment they need.

Written by Angela Newbury

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