Safety before politics

The report “Safe and Sustainable: Children’s Heart Surgery in England” commissioned in 2008 by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director is due out this Wednesday. As reported in the Times (£) over the weekend, out of the 11 units performing child heart surgery (some of which have already had their activity suspended) it is expected that the findings will recommend some of the units should close. With such specialised procedures it is vital that the surgical teams have the depth and breadth of expertise required in order to give the best possible chance of a succesful outcome.

Sir Bruce has made the point before: “We as surgeons have a duty to the most vulnerable members of the next generation to ensure that we adapt the shape of the NHS to meet their very complex needs,” he told The Times. “This is not about saving money. It is about saving lives.”

The point he makes has to be the one that politicians accept. Patient safety has to come before political expediency and this won’t be the first or last time that politicians and patients will need to recognise that specialist care should trump localism. It will mean that someone’s local unit closes and other services may be affected too. But this is part of the change process that the Government have been alluding to – shaping the NHS to meet patient needs in the 21st century. This includes recognising just how highly specialised many procedures have become and that they need an experienced team of experts to undertake them, which cannot be replicated in every hospital in the UK. It exemplifies the point that has been made by the coalition on health outcomes – that we should be aiming to raise the quality of NHS care – and in my opinion – especially for the vulnerable.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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2 Responses to Safety before politics

  1. Pingback: Be honest about the past – come and see the future | 2020health's Blog

  2. Pingback: Failing hospitals fill up with apoplectic politicians | 2020health's Blog

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