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Peers criticise NHS plans to scrap vital heart service at Royal Brompton Hospital

A debate at the House of Lords saw politicians from across the political divide come together to fight NHS England plans to axe CHD treatment

Peers from around the country voiced their concern and opposition to plans to close congenital heart disease (CHD) services at Royal Brompton Hospital .

The debate took place at the House of Lords after being tabled by former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd, a former patient at the Chelsea hospital .

Support for the service came from right across the political spectrum , with four Conservative, three Labour, one Liberal Democrat and five crossbench peers addressing the House.

The peers cited Royal Brompton’s excellent clinical outcomes, high patient satisfaction scores and position at the forefront of global research, among many reasons why NHS England’s proposal should be withdrawn.

Baroness Boothroyd addressing a rally in March, where she NHS England's plans were 'reckless' and 'must be stopped'(Image: UGC TMS)

NHS England has proposed closing the CHD services at the famous hospital in Sydney Street, in a move which will have far-reaching consequences to other treatments provided at the hospital.

The debate took place on July 20, with contributors including Lord Darzi – author of several influential health service reviews and renowned surgeon – and Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust chair Baroness Morgan of Huyton.

During the debate, reference was made to a letter written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt from around 200 leading professionals from around the world , urging him not to scrap CHD services at the hospital.

Royal Brompton is home to the largest CHD service in the country with more than 12,500 patients, but NHS England announced plans to decommission it in 2016.

NHS England says hospitals providing the services must have certain other children’s services on the same site - known as co-locating.

Royal Brompton does not meet this criteria but works in partnership with neighbouring Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to provide these services.

If successful, the NHS England plan would also dismantle Royal Brompton’s world-leading adult CHD research team and force the closure of its children’s intensive care unit.

As a result the trust’s paediatric cystic fibrosis and difficult asthma services, both of which are the largest service of their kind in the UK, would also have to close.

The contentious proposal has seen demonstrations on the streets and MPs unite across the political divide.

A public consultation on the plans ran from February 9 to July 17.

What was said: Key comments from the House of Lords debate

Lord Elton : “There is an irrefutable case against what is being proposed.”

Baroness Boothroyd : “I deplore this crisis. It was entirely avoidable. Unless it is resolved in a way that benefits patients, it will have appalling consequences.”

Lord McColl of Dulwich : “It would be a tragedy if this unit was closed.”

Baroness Morgan of Huyton : “The consultative meetings have been insulting. "There was no serious engagement. There was not a medical professional sent to face the detailed, knowledgeable, evidenced questions of our staff. I was livid on their behalf.”

Baroness Gardner of Parkes : “We will lose research and expertise from the UK. That will be a very serious loss.”

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