THE mother of a toddler with a rare heart condition has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to reconsider a review into children's surgery.
Oliver Mutton, aged two, is one of around 22 children born each year with a complex condition which will require lifelong monitoring and treatment.
Since birth he has been treated at both the Royal Brompton, and Harefield Hospital.
A national review of children's heart surgery has recommended instead of the three hospitals in London offering the life-saving treatment, there needs to be two, with the Royal Brompton being the odd one out.
This would have serious financial repercussions for the whole trust, and Caroline fears if the recommendations are implemented, she will have to take Oliver halfway up the country to Birmingham for treatment.
She said: ""Conditions like his are extremely rare. Very few hospitals can do the operation to 'fix' his condition, and there are very few surgeons who have even seen it in the flesh.
"This is why the nearest next hospital I would take him to is Birmingham, or Southampton, which is itself also under threat."
The Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust is calling for a judicial review of the decision, and will find out mid-July if they have the go ahead.
"In principle I agree with the need for a review of units around the country, there are units in this country that I would not take Oliver to.
"Nobody expected the Brompton to be put on notice like this, it is already the safest in the country. We feel the Brompton was misled into believing it was safe.
"There is a very strong case for keeping it open. It will cost more money to close it than to keep it open. It is not the right decision.
"The mortality rates are half those in other areas, and they take on their fair share of risky operations.
"Hopefully the judicial review will buy us more time to fight.
"Both Brompton and Harefield are worldwide centres of excellence. As we live in Ruislip it is convenient to go to Harefield for what is similar to being an outpatient.
"There is no doubt Harefield will be destabilised by the proposals. The review takes a very short sighted view.
"A lot of the top surgeons and cardiologists have international reputations, and they won't want to stick around at cardiology centres with limited career options.
"We don't want the hospitals to become second rate and lose its world class status.
"In any situation you need to take the longer term view, and this might take a while to trickle down but it will happen."
- Are you also likely to be affected by the review? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
See page two for Caroline and Oliver's letter to Prime Minister David Cameron
Caroline and Oliver's letter to Prime Minister David Cameron
Dear Mr Cameron,
Please reconsider the proposed closure of our hospital services.We are a single parent family living in Ruislip, my son is under the excellent care of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust, he has been so since he was diagnosed with life threatening heart conditions three weeks after he was born. The current recommendations of the Safe and Sustainable Review would have paediatric surgery at The Royal Brompton closed down, threatening paediatric services across the board at the hospital.
Currently doing well at two and a half years old, Oliver's heart anatomy is rare and complex, he will need lifelong monitoring and treatment. His ventricles are inverted, his great arteries are transposed and he has additional problems with holes, leaking valves and narrowed vessels. In the right hands however, his prognosis is very good. Oliver is very comfortable and relaxed at the Brompton and Harefield where he is seen several times a year for both his cardiac and respiratory issues. He has known the staff all his life and this is something that cannot be underestimated when dealing with very poorly children going through extremely traumatic times. This is also true for the fraught Mums and Dads.
The staff at the hospital always bend over backwards to accommodate our needs and answer questions and I have always felt very reassured that Mr Uemura's experience and research work with children sharing Oliver's rare anatomy would leave him in safe hands when the time comes to surgically intervene. The loss of his expertise at The Brompton will quite probably force us to Birmingham to find alternative 'safe' experience levels. Having the Evelina, or Great Ormond Street just a few miles further away, as fantastic as these hospitals are, is quite meaningless to us. As it will be for many other children who use the specialist services located at the Brompton. Having to transfer Oliver's care to Birmingham will put significant increased demands upon us.
Whilst the principle of the safe and sustainable review can be applauded, closing down world class surgical services, in order to rebuild the theatres and wards a few miles away seems to be an utterly unjustifiable waste of NHS money - not to mention the devastating impact of the collateral damage it will cause to all the other paediatric heart and lung services provided by the Brompton.I would also like to share a little anecdote - 20 years ago my house was built on the site of a secondary school which had recently been closed. The politicians and teachers of the time were absolutely convinced that the surrounding schools would comfortably accommodate the needs of secondary education requirements well into the future.
Following a long fight with the then education secretary, Ruislip High was built and opened in 2007 due to the major disruption being caused to the education of secondary school children as the borough could no longer meet the needs of the local community. They got it very wrong. If the review panel reduce the South East's centres, which also deal with significant numbers of national and international patients, from three to two and they are also wrong, (and there are already strong arguments they are wrong) it will be children's lives at risk, not just their educations.
Yours sincerely,Caroline & Oliver Mutton