Fight for ‘life saving’ unit

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Families who are fighting to save a children’s heart unit have told Gloria De Piero first-hand how vital the unit at Glenfield Hospital is to them.

Mums and dads gathered at Ashfield Health Village to tell the Ashfield MP how their children would have died without the specialist care provided at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre.

NHS England announced last month that it intends to cease congenital heart surgery at the centre because it does not meet certain targets - despite it being one of the best performing surgical centres in the country.

Its closure will mean that local children will be sent to other specialist heart hospitals in other parts of the country for treatment.

Zoe North from Kirkby brought her daughter Scarlett, four, to meet Gloria. Scarlett was born with two types of cardiomyopathy and was only minutes away from dying when she was rushed to Glenfield at only six days old.

Zoe said: “She would not have made it any further than Glenfield.

“As soon as we got there she was ventilated. Her cardiologist said another 15 minutes and they would not have been able to do anything for her.

“How many other local babies will be in that situation?”

Adele Burton from Kirkby, whose son Owen, 12, had surgery at Glenfield aged nine months and who will need further heart surgery in the future, said that one of her biggest worries is how he will cope if the team of doctors that he trusts is no longer going to treat him.

“Glenfield has been amazing, spending an immense amount of time with him, explaining his condition and what he needs next.

“I don’t think there will be that time to spend with each individual if the care is not under one centre,” she said.

A public consultation on the closure is set to start in the autumn, and Gloria has written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, raising her fears about the proposal.

Gloria said: “I was moved to tears by the stories that these parents were telling me about how their children’s lives were saved by the doctors at Glenfield.

“It is so, so important that this amazing centre is not shut down: the consequences could be truly devastating for the people of Ashfield and the East Midlands.”