When our congenital heart services were threatened in 2011-2013, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stopped the planned closure. We want him to do the same again.
We have been contacted by a number of patients and carers who share this view and are keen to write to their MP about NHS England’s proposals. Many have asked for guidance on how to do this.
1. General advice
MPs are ultimately interested in your story – your experience of care at Royal Brompton and your concerns about the planned ending of congenital heart disease services. Please write the email in your own style and only include the information you want to.
Email is the quickest and most direct route to contact Members of Parliament. You can find contact details for your MP on the UK Parliament website.
2. Add an email subject in the header box
You can title your email ‘Congenital Heart Disease at Royal Brompton Hospital’, ‘Saving heart disease services for patients,’ ‘Protecting patients at Royal Brompton,’ ‘Preventing the closure of children’s intensive care/specialist respiratory services,’ ‘My heart disease treatment,’ or any title of your choosing.
3. Identify yourself as a constituent
It is vital to point out early on in the email that you are a constituent and somewhere in the email give your postal address to prove it. MPs’ offices need this before they will take up an issue and respond.
4. Briefly explain why you are writing
In your own words, introduce the email by saying you are concerned that NHS England is planning to end the congenital heart disease (CHD) service at Royal Brompton hospital, and that you want your MP to write to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, asking him to prevent this from happening.
5. Explain why you care about Royal Brompton
- Are you a patient at Royal Brompton – is your partner, your son or daughter, another friend or relative? Was this just during childhood or as an adult too?
- What is it about the care you/they experienced at Royal Brompton that you valued so much?
6. Explain why you are against NHS England’s plans
Below are some of the reasons patients have given for opposing the plans – you may want to use some of them and add your own.
- There are no issues around the quality of care at Royal Brompton and congenital heart disease services are among the best in the country - so it’s very hard to see how the service we get will be improved by sending us somewhere else. How can closing a large, well-established and well performing unit make any sense at all? How can this be good for patients?
- Royal Brompton is already one of the biggest and best CHD services in the country, with some of the highest patient satisfaction ratings of any NHS Trust. How can closing such a large, well-established and well performing unit be good for patients?
- It is hard to understand why, when the NHS has serious financial worries, NHS England is trying to stop a service which is among the best in the country and spend valuable resources doing so.
- Royal Brompton is the world’s leading centre for adult CHD research. The UK’s status as world leader in this field will be lost if Royal Brompton’s CHD service closes.
- NHS England say that because a small number of services for children at Royal Brompton are provided jointly with a neighbouring NHS hospital, the level of care is somehow substandard. But there is no evidence for this, and if this was the case, Royal Brompton wouldn’t already be one of the best-performing CHD services in the country.
- Forcing the CHD services to close will force a number of other services at Royal Brompton to close – but these knock-on effects haven’t been factored into NHS England’s plans. For example, the children’s intensive care unit would have to close along with specialist paediatric respiratory services, which need the backup of intensive care. This will affect thousands of very vulnerable children and babies. Despite requests, NHS England have not provided an impact assessment of how other services such as those for children with cystic fibrosis, difficult asthma and complex lung disease will be affected.
7. Remind your MP what you want him/her to do about it
End by reminding your MP that you want him/her to write to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to request that he overrule NHS England’s decision. Thank your MP in advance for their efforts, and say that you are looking forward to the response.
It you would like to help our campaign by sharing the reply you receive from your MP with us, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.