We have been forced to make the decision to postpone a planned rally and family Christmas party this weekend, in the face of continuing street protests.
Sarah Quinlan, Executive Officer of the Trust explained the situation.
“We had planned a Family March and Christmas Party to allow children and families to show their support for the retention of this vital service in Northern Ireland. The police and Parades Commission had been informed and hundreds of people were planning to come to Belfast from right across the region. The march to the Health & Social Care Board offices was to be followed by a party in City Hall for the children.
“I have been in ongoing contact with the police and unfortunately the situation is too volatile to go ahead with our rally. We need to make this decision now as pulling the event any closer to the date would be too late. We will come back in January and we are determined to make the voices of our children and parents heard.
“People need to make their views known on this crucial issue. There is political uncertainty surrounding the process as it applies in England and Wales, and in Scotland the process was rejected as unsuitable. The preferred option for clinicians and families is an all-island surgical network operating from Belfast and Dublin. I hope everybody who was going to support the rally will use that time to respond to the ongoing consultation.”
The consultation can be found at http://www.hscboard.hscni.net/lnews/Paediatric_Congenital_Cardiac_Services
Northern Ireland children are now the only children in the UK whose healthcare is subject to guidelines contained in the Safe & Sustainable guidelines drawn up originally to assess paediatric congenital surgical services for children in England and Wales. That was the message from the Children’s Heartbeat Trust following news of UK Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP’s review of Sir Ian Kennedy’s recommendations, which proposed the closure of three children’s heart units at Leeds, Leicester and Royal Brompton.
Speaking following the news Children’s Heartbeat Trust Executive Officer Sarah Quinlan said: “The review of the decision to close three children’s heart surgery units in England by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt vindicates the position of clinicians, parents and families in Northern Ireland who do not accept Sir Ian Kennedy’s proposals for the region.
“The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has the power to recommend the review of contested proposals for the reconfiguration of health care services. The panel will be reviewing the decision to review thedecision to close children’s heart surgery at the three hospital in England focusing on impact on patients due to extended travel times, the impact on other services in specialist paediatric units and how the consultation and decision-making process was undertaken.
“Families and clinicians in Northern Ireland have expressed deep concerns on each of these grounds. Our children would be more than 3 hours away from a surgical centre if Belfast was closed and other services including cardiology, renal surgery and neurosurgery could be greatly impacted. In addition, the consultation period here was much shorter than in England and Wales. If the method of consultation there is under review, then surely the shorter period of consultation here in Northern Ireland does not stand up to scrutiny.
“This decision means guidelines for the future care of English and Welsh children are now up for review. Today we are left in the lamentable position where the only children subject to such guidelines anywhere in the UK are those born in Northern Ireland. Families here who were told in August that services were not sustainable and a solution should be found within six months are now being subjected to further distress as the findings of the team who carried out this review are now themselves under review,” she added.
The Children’s Heartbeat Trust have today written to the Health Minister, HSCB Chief Executive and MLAs across Northern Ireland urging support for an all-island network which would see children’s heart surgery provided across two sites – Belfast and Dublin.
We need everyone to keep writing and emailing their local Councillors, MLA’s, MP’s, Minister of Health and First & Deputy First Minister, about our HANDS UP Campaign to protect and enhance children’s heart surgery in Northern Ireland. To help you do this we will be posting up key issues for you to highlight every 10 days/ 2 weeks over the course of the campaign.
An easy way to contact all your local politicians is at www.writetothem.com but don’t forget that giving them a call or popping into your local representatives office and having a face to face chat is one of the most effective ways to make your point!
Below is the first key issue – also remember to include why this campaign and the protection of children’s heart surgical services are so important to you and your family.
KEY ISSUE. 1
There are serious inconsistencies in the timescales and processes that were followed in the review of paediatric congenital cardiac services in Northern Ireland, against the same review of services in England.
(i) In England and Wales, the Safe & Sustainable review team gave clinical centres one year’s notice of the process, and three months to prepare and complete the relevant documentation ahead of the team’s notice.
In Northern Ireland, clinicians from Clark Clinic (the only centre for paediatric cardiology in N.I.) at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children were actually informed of the review by the Children’s Heartbeat Trust (Northern Ireland’s children’s heart charity) and upon confirmation from the Commissioners, were given FIVE WORKING DAYS to complete the extensive documentation. Despite reassurance from the Public Health Agency and Commissioners that due to this unrealistic and constrained timeline, the process would be limited and focussed on specific questions, this was not the reality. The Safe & Sustainable report was constructed in exactly the same way as for other centres in England & Wales.
England & Wales: 1 year’s notice with 3 months to complete documentation
Northern Ireland: No notice and 5 working days to complete documentation
(ii) In England and Wales, the Safe & Sustainable review held an extensive consultation with parents and families and stakeholders which started in 2009 and continued through engagement and public consultation until 2012.
In Northern Ireland, parents and families were given one hour to meet with the Safe & Sustainable review panel during their visit, with no prior consultation or engagement.
PARENT & FAMILY CONSULTATION:
England & Wales: Multiple consultations with different groups over a 2 year period.
Northern Ireland: One consultation of 1 hour
Why such different approaches?
Why was Northern Ireland not afforded the same timelines, preparation, or consultation and engagement as England and Wales?
3 Marathons; 3 Countries; 3Days
Four runners – Peter Ferris Irish marathon record holder with 390 marathons done, John Kew 2nd in UK with 690 marathons done, Harold Rielly 110 marathons done and Richard McLernon are attempting to run 3 marathons in 3 countries in 3 consecutive days, this will start with the Snowdonia marathon in Wales on the sat 27/10 then next day Preston marathon and finish with the Dublin marathon the following day.
You can sponsor this fantastic feat at
With speakers including Cardiothoracic surgeon Mr Lars Nolke, Head of Paediatric Cardiology at Clark Clinic Dr Frank Casey , Clinical Psychologist Dr Nicola Doherty and our new Adult Congenital Cardiologist for N.I Dr Chris Lockhart, the conference is not to be missed!
To make sure of your place, register now by downloading the registration form at Parent’s Conference 2012 – Registration, email email@example.com, or call 07584 164 815 to get a form posted out.
The Registration Fee is £10pp which includes lunch and refreshments. As last year we will be running an early bird rate of £8 pp or £15 for two if you register before Monday 29 October
Last year’s conference got great feedback from the parents who came along so make sure this year you don’t miss out!