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Challenges do not prevent expert care
ADVERSE weather conditions, such as those we have seen in the north of the UK recently, do give us extra challenges but do not prevent children with congenital heart disease from receiving expert care, as feared by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (The Press, September 28).
If we are faced by road closures, alternative transport is used to get the child to hospital. This includes helicopters or a fixed-wing aircraft.
There is a lot of experience already with these kinds of transfers and transporting patients in emergency situations all over the country and at all times of the year.
For nearly 20 years, some highly specialist services have been provided in only three places in England and this includes the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. Also, some areas of the country have dealt with these long distance transfers in poor weather as a matter of course for many years too.
In the future, in an emergency a child with heart disease from Yorkshire will continue to be “retrieved” or collected by a highly specialist team based in Barnsley.
The goal is not for a child to reach a surgical centre in the shortest possible time, but rather that the specialist team gets to these children, stabilises them with their expertise and takes them where needed in a controlled fashion.
Vital changes to children’s congenital heart services will ensure that expert assessment and diagnosis services are provided as close to families’ homes as possible.
Dr Ian Jenkins, Immediate past president, Paediatric Intensive Care Society.