Baroness Morgan of Huyton
21 July 2017
Peers from around the country voiced their opposition to NHS England’s plans to close congenital heart services at Royal Brompton Hospital on 20 July in a debate tabled by Baroness Boothroyd, former speaker in the House of Commons.
Contributors included Lord Darzi – author of several influential health service reviews and renowned surgeon – and Trust Chair Baroness Morgan of Huyton.
Support for the Trust came from right across the political spectrum, with four Conservative, three Labour, one Liberal Democrat and five crossbench peers addressing the House.
The peers cited Royal Brompton’s excellent clinical outcomes, high patient satisfaction scores and position at the forefront of global research, among many reasons why NHS England’s proposal should be withdrawn.
Baroness Morgan read from the letter sent to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, from clinicians around the world, saying: "The Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust is internationally known for its education and training as well as its research, as we have already heard today.
"This is evidenced by the letter sent to the Secretary of State recently by 198 leading professionals from around the world, including Gary Webb from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Professor Khairy from Montreal Heart Institute; Professor Ju Le Tan from the National Heart Centre Singapore; Professor Diller from Münster, Germany; Professor Shah, cardiac director at the Geneva University Hospitals: Professor Geva from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard; and many other eminent professors from Brazil, Israel, France, Italy, Greece, India, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Egypt, China, Sweden, Japan, Australia and Denmark. I could go on.
"In their letter they say that, 'by any measure the Royal Brompton’s CHD service is the largest in the UK with excellent outcomes. The Trust’s research team is the most influential in the world.'
"They say that the plan will have 'devastating consequences.' Similarly, the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board has written to NHS England to express its deep concern about the future training of paediatric cardiologists."
It was confirmed that the Government expects a decision from NHS England on the congenital heart disease proposals by the end of the calendar year.
What was said:
- Baroness Boothroyd: “I deplore this crisis. It was entirely avoidable. Unless it is resolved in a way that benefits patients, it will have appalling consequences.”
- Baroness Gardner of Parkes: “We will lose research and expertise from the UK. That will be a very serious loss.”
- Lord Darzi: “This debate is based on complete fallacy in terms of the evidence supporting it, and I urge you not to dismantle the most important hospital that deals with congenital and non-congenital heart disease in this country.”
- Lord Patel: “Teams will be broken up. It takes years to build research teams… For the NHS to suggest that this will not have any influence is fundamentally and absolutely wrong.”
- Baroness Pidding: “It’s difficult to see how the transfer of thousands of patients within an already stretched service can provide benefits.”
- Baroness Masham of Ilton: “Royal Brompton’s teams have developed an international reputation for tailoring the transition from paediatric to adult care, which is seamless. This approach will be lost it the Royal Brompton’s unit is closed.”
- Baroness Morgan of Huyton: “The consultative meetings have been insulting… There was no serious engagement. There was not a medical professional sent to face the detailed, knowledgeable, evidenced questions of our staff. I was livid on their behalf.”
- Baroness Watkins of Tavistock: “What evidence is there that this approach will improve services for patients?”
- Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: “Closure of the service at [Royal] Brompton goes against the interests of the patients. It will disrupt vital research. I would suggest that it also seems to have no evidence base behind it.”
- Lord McColl of Dulwich: “It would be a tragedy if this unit was closed, and I hope that ways will be found to keep it open.”
- Lord Elton: “There is an irrefutable case against what is being proposed.”
- Baroness Walmsley: “Where is the cost benefit analysis? At a time when the NHS is struggling? This is no time to upset an already wobbly apple cart.”
- Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: “There has been too much uncertainty, now going back 17 years, about the future of these centres."
Read the Hansard report of the debate
Read the letter to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, signed by 200 doctors from around the world (PDF, 195KB)