On the ward: local MP keeps up heart unit campaign


Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has vowed to continue campaigning to secure the future of children’s heart surgery in Southampton, following a visit to the unit.

Mike spent several hours at the hospital visiting the Ocean Ward (the Children’s Heart Unit) and the Children’s Intensive Care Unit accompanied by Alison Ayres, Director of Communications at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

During his visit, Mike met with patients, families and staff to see first-hand the exemplary facilities and dedicated care services provided by the units. The Eastleigh MP also spoke to staff and patients about the future of the children’s heart unit, which is again uncertain following Jeremy Hunt’s decision to suspend the Safe and Sustainable Review Process.

The children’s heart unit operates on approximately 350 children and 100 adults with congenital heart disease every year and is rated the best in the country outside London.

Last month in Parliament, Mr. Thornton grilled Prime Minister David Cameron over the unit’s future, and has requested an urgent meeting with Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to discuss the issue.

After the visit, the Eastleigh MP paid tribute to the hospital’s dedicated staff, and pledged to do all he could to secure unit’s the future.

Commenting, Mike Thornton said, "I was delighted to be able to take this opportunity to visit the children’s cardiac and intensive care unit at Southampton General Hospital. I was very grateful to Alison and her staff for her time and showing me around.

"Talking to families here it's clear just what a wonderful job the unit does. Many parents told me how vital the support provided by the staff here has been to them in such emotional circumstances

"It is a fact that children’s heart surgery here is among the best in the country. It beggars belief that it’s future is in doubt once again.

"Of course it's right that we look at how we can improve cardiac services across the country but in our region Southampton is the best place to have children’s heart services. This is not only because of the world class quality of the care provided, but because of the easy access from all around the area.

"Common sense needs to win out, and this world-class unit needs to stay put. We must keep working together to save our children's heart unit."

Dr James Gnanapragasam, consultant paediatric cardiologist at Southampton General Hospital, said:

"It is extremely important for us to keep people engaged with the reconfiguration plans for children’s heart surgery services in England and we are very grateful for the ongoing support from MPs, families, our colleagues and members of the public who are helping us to ensure quality remains at the centre of this process."

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