Heart surgery unit closure concerns

Maria Linfield with her children Bode and Casey-Beau..
Maria Linfield with her children Bode and Casey-Beau..
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A SUTTON mum whose little girl has had life-saving operations at Glenfield Hospital said the decision to close its heart surgery service is a ‘big blow’.

Maria Linfield’s seven-year-old daughter Casey-Beau Johnson was born with severe congenital heart disease and she has already had open heart surgery at Glenfield four times.

But she said the decision announced last week to shut the Leicester hospital’s children’s heart surgery unit by 2014 is an ‘absolute nightmare’ for local families whose children have treatment there.

“Everyone is absolutely devastated,” said Maria, who runs PATCHES Heart Group, in Ashfield, for parents and children affected by heart problems.

“They are worried about the continuity of care for the children - where will they be treated next? Will they follow their heart surgeon who has treated them previously?”

Though appointments and operations will be carried out at Glenfield as planned for the time being, the uncertainty over the future is upsetting both parents and the young patients alike, said Maria.

The next nearest specialist children’s heart care unit is in Birmingham.

One of the main reasons given for closing three units across the UK is to focus expertise in fewer locations.

But Maria said that though safety is obviously the ‘most important’ thing, she does not think the risks of seriously ill children having to travel further for care have been taken into account enough.

“There could be a chance that they lose more children in transit than they lost on the operating table,” she said.

Dozens of families in the Ashfield and Mansfield areas are now backing a campaign to reverse the decision to close Glenfield’s children’s heart surgery unit.

l A e-petition has been set up and has already attracted more than 10,000 signatures. This can be signed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35788.