PARENTS are celebrating after a vital hospital unit was included in an NHS decision to create seven congenital heart networks across England.
The Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle is among the selected sites following a major review by the NHS.
The networks will expand ongoing care services so that they are closer to home and focus specialist heart surgery by investing in seven larger centres of surgical expertise.
The decision follows the comprehensive Safe and Sustainable clinically-led review of services and one of the largest consultations in NHS history.
Healthcare professionals believe there is a great need for fewer – but larger – centres as specialists are currently considered to be spread too thinly between them.
Fears had been raised that either the Freeman Hospital would be one of those to close.
And at their announcement earlier today it was revealed it would stay open.
Parents whose children have been saved by the unit over the years gathered at Crusoe’s cafe on Tynemouth Long Sands to hear the announcement, sparking celebrations at the news.
They have been running a campaign since the review was first started two years ago to safeguard the unit at the Freeman Hospital.
Alana Rutter-Close, from Holywell Village, who has used the service, said: “While our thoughts are with the children and families who will be impacted by the closures of the other units, we are delighted that the decision was made to keep the cardio thoracic unit at the Freeman open.
“Given the large area of the UK already serviced by the Freeman, and the innovations and advancements in children’s cardio surgery that have come from that unit it would have impacted deeply on more than just it’s surrounding area.
“Great news, we will be raising a glass with our families tonight to toast a good decision, and to all of the wonderful staff who are so dedicated to the work they do.”