Congenital Cardiac Services for Children

Part of Backbench Business — [29th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 23rd June 2011.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Labour, Southampton, Test 2:23 pm, 23rd June 2011

Southampton children’s services are located at Southampton General hospital, right in the middle of my constituency. The hard work undertaken by the large numbers of people who organised the petition presented at No. 10 yesterday—I and a number of fellow Members from across south-central England managed to get ourselves very wet helping to deliver it—showed not partisan fighting on behalf of a particular unit, regardless of its quality or the service that it represents, but genuine mystification that the process appears to have dealt so peripherally with Southampton’s role in the national roll-out of services. In 2010, Sir Ian Kennedy rated Southampton as provider of the highest quality service outside London, rating it particularly highly on paediatric intensive care and support for parents, and highly on training and innovation.

That mystification as to why such a unit should feature in just one of the options in the review was compounded by an examination of the background to that review. Indeed, perhaps the explanation for why Southampton appears to have been treated so peripherally can be found in the review itself. Of course it is important that the review should be completed, that changes should be made and that judgments be made on clinical grounds. However, I would suggest that it is not on clinical grounds that anyone should have forgotten that the Isle of Wight exists. That is the province of geographers rather than clinicians. If clinicians depend on the material in a review setting out the factors that will be taken into account in their final decision, much of their power in making that decision could be overthrown by what goes into that review in the first place.

It is not a clinical decision for the review to state that Southampton has two surgeons and undertakes 231 procedures, when in fact it will have four surgeons by this summer and undertake almost 400 procedures, as a result of, among other things, its excellent collaboration with Oxford, which my right hon. Friend Mr Smith mentioned earlier, but which the review appears to neglect. If such a decision is made by the review, which appears to have got so many things wrong about the background to Southampton’s excellent services, the 250,000 petitioners who signed the petition that went to No. 10 yesterday will justifiably feel let down by the process, whoever conducts it. The national health service has a long and honourable record of stitching people up for the right reasons. If as a result of the review those 250,000 people end up feeling stitched up for the wrong reasons, they will have every right to feel very aggrieved indeed.

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