The plan to end heart surgery at Leicester’s Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre is ‘a scandal of national proportions’, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 24 October).
The union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the proposal by NHS England was ‘penny-pinching and cruel’ and not based on hard empirical evidence.
A protest meeting and march will be held in Leicester on Saturday (29 October) to stop the moves which will see the East Midlands lose this facility – it performs about 300 operations a year on children born with heart defects.
The nearest hospital would then be Birmingham, but if no beds were available there, very sick children could end up anywhere in the country, with the accompanying stress caused to their parents. Two other units – the Royal Brompton & Harefield in London and the Central Manchester – will also cease surgery.
Protesters will meet at Victoria Park at 11.00 on Saturday, near Granville Road car park LE1 7RY before the march sets off at noon to Jubilee Square for a rally at 13.00.
Unite said that it wanted to assist in mobilising opposition to the unit’s closure before the 14-week consultation process starts in mid-December.
Unite regional officer Mark Pettifer said: “Unite is campaigning with patients and their families, trade unionists and health campaigners. We are also closely cooperating with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust which is actively opposing this decision.
“NHS England denies this is about cuts, yet the arguments it puts forward are flawed. These proposals are being made at the same time that £22 billion in so-called ‘efficiency savings’ are being demanded by the government.”
The union said that the NICOR (National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research) data, due to be published this month, will show that the clinical outcomes for patients will be amongst the best in the country.
In its initial feedback its inspection in June 2016, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reported: “We noted the excellent clinical outcomes for children following cardiac surgery at Glenfield Hospital.”
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter, who will be addressing the rally, said: “There is no logic or empirical evidence to close this first-class centre and force very sick children to seek treatment in Birmingham and possibly even further away.
“This is a cruel proposal which is completely unnecessary – this is a scandal of national proportions, where penny-pinching trumps great care for children born with heart defects. We call on the people of Leicester to turn out in their thousands for Saturday’s rally.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: email@example.com
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.