Heart unit boost for campaigners

Henry Moore, three, with parents Shane and Suzanne
Henry Moore, three, with parents Shane and Suzanne
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A FAMILY who campaigned to save a children’s heart unit that saved their young son’s life have received a boost after the idea proved unpopular.

Shane Moore and partner Suzanne McKenzie, from Hartlepool, called for people to oppose proposals which could result in the closure of the pioneering children’s heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Their three-year-old son Henry owes his life to the unit where surgeons rebuilt his heart in a complex operation when he was three-months-old.

In May, Shane and Suzanne, from the West View area of town, urged more people to back the unit by taking part in a public consultation for the NHS review of children’s heart services across the UK.

Now initial findings of the public consultation show the option featuring the loss of the Freeman unit was the least popular with the 75,000 individuals and organisations who responded.

Shane, 28, who works for Clydesdale Forge in Hartlepool, said: “Suzanne and I are feeling very happy about it. We think it is quite a positive response.

“Thankfully, the local people have got behind it and given their feedback.

“Although the Freeman closure is only one option out of four it was still a bit risky. We would hate to see it go down that road.

“I hope the decision makers will take it on board. With it being the least popular option we hope they will listen to that.”

Little Henry needed open heart surgery to rebuild the inside of his heart after he was born with just one chamber instead of four.

He spent several weeks in the Freeman and goes back regularly for checks.

The Safe and Sustainable review is looking at options to cut the number of specialist child heart units across the country from 11 to six or seven.

The most widely supported proposal is option B which includes the Freeman and hospitals in Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol and two centres in London.

A total of 1,430 people from the North-East took part in the consultation.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of decision makers, the Joint Committee of the Primary Care Trusts, said: “The scale of the response confirms to me the importance of ensuring excellent NHS care for children with congenital heart disease.

“The task for us now is to carefully consider the findings in detail along with other evidence before we reach a final decision later this year.”