The story - from the top ...
Following the children's heart surgery scandal at Bristol Royal Infirmary in the mid-1990's, the NHS set about reviewing how it delivers congenital heart services to children in England and Wales in the hope that it can improve outcomes for children.
Professor Sir Ian Kennedy was commissioned to undertake a major study of these services and one of his key recommendations was to ask the National Specialised Commissioning Team to make recommendations to concentrate paediatric cardiac services in seven centres of world-class excellence instead of the historical eleven centres.
Safe & Sustainable was subsequently established by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) to undertake this process in response to long-standing concerns that some congenital heart units for children are too small to be able to deliver a safe and sustainable 24/7 service. There were also concerns that clinical networks were fragmented and that the various services that see children with congenital heart disease could do better in working together.
A large consultation process was undertaken in 2011 with views sought on six options for the reconfiguration of paediatric cardiac services. However, despite having a record of excellent second only to the Evelina in London, Southampton appeared in just one option for change and faced possible closure.
A massive campaign was launched locally, led by the Daily Echo newspaper and backed by local TV stations and Members of Parliament from all parties.
Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine was among those who led the charge among MPs from the South; sponsoring a debate in Parliament in June 2011, meeting affected constituents, representatives from the Trust in Southampton and hosting meetings with the Safe & Sustainable team in Parliament for other MPs.
Speaking in the House of Commons debate he said; "I want to be crystal clear- I and the team from Southampton supported the Safe and Sustainable Review taking place and on-balance still do but we were shocked to our core by a process that is about quality could put one of the world's top centres on such a sticky wicket."
After a long period of prepation, consultation, legal challenges and deliberation it all came down to a special decision meeting in public of the JCPCT on Wednesday 4 July 2012 in Central London.
The decision ...
Steve Brine attended that meeting along with members of the team from Southampton, the reporter from the Echo and families who have used the services on Ocean Ward at Southampton General Hospital.
After a meeting that lasted 8-hours, the JCPCT decided on Option B which will concentrate children's heart surgery in London (two sites), Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leicester and .... Southampton!
Speaking from the event, Steve said; "We are obviously delighted. This has been a very long process, and a very long day here today, but the right decision has been made. Whichever way you looked at it, Southampton came out right at the top when it came to quality of paediatric cardiac services, access to them and their sustainability in the long-term working across regional networks. I hope our campaign in Parliament made a little difference but I pay tribute above all to the team from Southampton, the Daily Echo and the parents and families of Ocean Ward who made their case passionately and with dignity to secure these life-savings services in Southampton."
Pictured (top); Steve and the Southampton team after the July 2012 decision.
This is sadly not where the story ends. On 12 June 2013, after legal challenges brought about by those unhappy with the outcome of the review, the Secretary of State announced in Parliament that the safe and sustainable proposals for children's congenital heart services could NOT go ahead in their current form. Steve Brine spoke in the Commons at the time to express the disappointment this news will be greeted with in Southampton.
He went on to say that "it is right we continue with this process, albeit in a different way". NHS England as the new body responsible for commissioning specialised congenital heart services (following the passing into law of Health & Social Care Act 2012) will now take the process forward. A new review is being established to consider the whole lifetime pathway of care for people with congenital heart disease (CHD), to ensure that services for people with CHD are provided in a way that achieves the highest possible quality within the available resources.
This review has set itself the ambitious target of producing an implementable solution by June 2014 but this target date was not met. You can download (as a PDF file) the NHS England Board paper produced to start this new process and in addition, John Holden, NHS England's Director of System Policy, has produced a regular blog for any interested stakeholders to comment on.
More information and links ...
Visit the Safe & Sustainable website containing full information and download reports - here.
Visit the Ocean Ward website at Southampton General Hospital - here.
Visit the Friends of PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) website at SGH - here.
Social Media - Click here and join the Ocean Ward Facebook community or follow on Twitter.
Local press - Visit the Echo 'Have a Heart 'campaign page - here.
Steve Brine 'crystal clear' as Have a Heart motion is passed in Commons - see here.
Steve secured a debate on the floor of the House of Commons on 23 June 2011 - see here.
Steve helped deliver a 232,000 name petition to No.10 Downing Street on 23 June 2011 - see here.
Steve featured the issue in his May 2011 column in The Hampshire Chronicle - see 19 May 2011 here.
Delight as heart surgery in Southampton saved on 5 July 2012 - see here.
New uncertainty for children's heart surgery on 12 June 2013 - see here.
Do you have a local issue you would like to campaign on alongside Steve Brine? Get in touch today - see here.