A major shake-up of paediatric cardiac surgery in the UK has announced the closure of three of the current 10 units providing services, sparing Southampton General, where surgery will continue.
A campaign by staff, families of patients and Southampton students received widespread support, with one petition in support of the unit, affectionately named Ocean Ward, receiving well over 50,000 signatures.
A widespread review of specialised services in the NHS in England, “Safe and Sustainable” recommended closure of similar units in London (with two London hospitals keeping their services), Leicester and Leeds, in response to concerns that specialist expertise was being spread too thinly.
In a statement, Mark Hackett, chief executive of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the unit, said “This is fantastic news for our patients and their families and we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received across the country. We would like to thank all those who supported us throughout the consultation to safeguard this service for future generations.
“In the future, there will no doubt be more national reviews of services and we need to keep quality at the centre of the way we shape, guide and decide location.”
The campaign, ‘Save Our Heart Unit’, captured the interest of a large number of Southampton students, including medical and healthcare students, students who have used similar services as children, and the wider University community.