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 already been contacted by a number of patients and carers who are keen to write to their MP about the NHS England proposals. Many have asked for some guidance.
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 write your letter in the body of an email or as an attachment.
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?
- There doesn’t seem to be a plan for where Royal Brompton’s patients will go if CHD services close.
- 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.
- 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.
- NHS England suggests that because a small number of services for children at Royal Brompton are provided jointly with consultants from Chelsea and Westminster hospital, the level of care is somehow substandard. But I have seen this work first-hand and it works well.
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 would be helpful if you could send a copy of any reply you receive from your MP to firstname.lastname@example.org.