Children’s hospital services are currently in the headlines following a review of children’s hospital services carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Ten years ago the organisation published 10 care standards which they stated hospitals should be complying with to ensure the best quality of care was being provided to children admitted to hospital; however following the current audit the Royal College has highlighted some major areas of concern including the fact that cover provided by senior doctors during evenings and weekends (often the “off-peak” time for acute paediatric care) is still not as good as on weekdays.
The Royal College also found that for some specialities within paediatrics, telephone advice with a specialist was not always immediately available and that the resources are spread too thinly. In fact, the President of the Royal College, Dr Hilary Cass was quoted as saying “There are too many units in the UK to provide a safe and sustainable service”.
This comes only days after the re-opening of the Leeds General Infirmary child cardiac unit which was initially closed following NHS England enquiry data seemed to show that it had a mortality rate double that of other such centres. Lots of the commentary surrounding the closure and re-opening of the unit at Leeds has centred around the need for specialist centres with the appropriate infrastructure in place to provide the level of care required in these types of matters, rather than allow the current situation with patients being treated at their local hospital.
This position seems to be backed up by Dr Cass’s quote that there are too many units in the UK, but what does this mean for parents? There is always the argument that choice of where a child is treated should be provided and that treatment local to the family will mean the ability of the family to visit the child more often. Fewer specialist centres would prevent such choice and would undoubtedly lead to children being treated many miles away from their homes, family and friends, however on the other side of the argument fewer centres would mean a concentration of expertise and specialism meaning that when children are treated, they are treated by the very best in the county and the postcode lottery is removed.
Whatever side of the argument people end up coming down on the one thing which is always going to be clear is the need for the best possible care to be provided to children, especially in such serious cases such as cardiac matters, and the situation highlighted by Leeds General Infirmary is going to need addressing one way or the other.
If you or your child have suffered as a result of Clinical Negligence following Cardiac Surgery or have concerns about the standard of treatment provided to you, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For free legal advice and help with making a claim please call 0800 158 5274 to speak to a specialist Clinical Negligence solicitor.